A while back I wrote the blog Revealing Character Through Communication where I examined the issue of unprofessional communication. This topic sparked a lot of discussion and ultimately begged this question, “When unprofessional communication damages a relationship, how do you go about fixing it?” Whether this is a question you’re used to facing head on or one you’d rather avoid at any cost, I’ve found several key steps that help to quickly resolve this uncomfortable situation. For this week’s blog, I hope to close the loop on the topic of unprofessional communication and give you a working blueprint for how you can appropriately address a strained business relationship.
Look for the signs
A broken relationship can center on a single event, but most commonly it is compounded by several other events that aggravate the negative feelings even further. Be aware of the early signs of a strained relationship. Look for changes in communication, tone or willingness to help. These are all red flags that something has changed. The sooner you can address the breakdown in communication, the more likely the relationship is to fully recover. Some signs are quite obvious and if this is the case, consider yourself lucky. Other signs present themselves passive aggressively and require a keener sense to identify. For example, a lag in response time, short answers or an overly negative tone are passive aggressive signs of strained business communication. If any of these signs persist for a period of time or cannot be explained by another life event, it’s time to address the situation.
Acknowledge that something is wrong
The next step is to face the problem head on. You must clearly address your concern with the person in a professional and non-accusatory way. If you’re not sure of what event could have initiated the breakdown in communication, begin with a question to break the ice. “Did I do or say something to upset you?” On the other hand, if you are aware of the event that strained the relationship, address this with a direct statement. “I realize that the last time we spoke I may have come across ungrateful for your work.” In either case, be sure what you’re saying is sincere. Even the slightest hint of sarcasm or aggression can sour the best intentions. Once you’ve acknowledged the breakdown, the next step is to take action.
Choose to terminate or repair
This step is a critical one. Most often our instinct is to patch up a damaged relationship as quickly as possible. In many cases this is the right course of action; however, it’s important to be open to the fact that a relationship may not be worth repairing. There are many factors to consider, among the most important are how much do you value this relationship and is it essential to the success of your business. If you determine that this is a relationship you must repair, move forward immediately by first offering an apology and then taking the appropriate actions to right the wrongs.
Don’t walk on eggshells
Once you establish a resolution and begin to move forward, don’t allow the awkwardness that was once there to linger. The best way to dissolve any residual feelings of hurt is to treat the situation normally again. Don’t walk on eggshells around each other as this will only draw more attention to the negative situation that has since been resolved. Instead, treat each other kindly just as you would anyone else – no more, no less.
Have you ever had to repair a broken business relationship? What were some key steps you took to accomplish this professionally? Share your opinion and questions by commenting below!
4 thoughts on “How to Repair a Broken Business Relationship”
I am right in the middle of this situation I was hired two months ago my teammate was very nice and kind to me but after one day that I just said good morning and left breakroom soon and then stole my eyes from him, he got angry and is mean to me I don’t know how to recover our relationship because I don’t have a chance to speak to him alone:(
I’m sorry to hear about your tough situation! I’d recommend having open communication with him. Let him know you want to have a good relationship with him and whatever transpired was a misunderstanding. If you can’t talk alone at work, can you invite him for coffee before or after work? You could even begin with a letter. Hope these suggestions help!
Thank for your helpful reply
Actually, I could recover that relationship by a few warm greetings but now I’ve discovered that he likes me. Hadn’t told me anything but shows me that at every chance. I don’t wanna go over that at all I just wanna do my job and that’s all. I don’t know what to do to neither upset him nor go through any other feelings. Do you have any suggestion?