4 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Business Relationships (and How to Stop!)

Whether with clients, customers, colleagues, leads or influencers, relationships are key to business success.

You work hard at your relationships, but did you know there are plenty of seemingly harmless behaviours that might be damaging them?

Here are 4 ways that you might be sabotaging your business relationships, as well as a little advice to get you back on track…

1. Trying to be someone you’re not

Of course, you want to maintain a professional front. Ripped jeans, bad language, poor-taste jokes or crippling shyness probably aren’t going to be appropriate in your professional lives.

However, trying to become someone completely different could be holding you back from making any genuine interactions.

Gregory Malouf, author of the Thoughtless series of books, believes that putting on a front will result in lower quality relationships…

“We all have an intrinsic desire for authentic connections. In an effort to create those connections, sometimes we make ourselves into something we’re not in order to gain acceptance. In the workplace, people may stifle their ideas or go along with something they know is detrimental for fear of standing out, sounding foolish or making a mistake. Conditional relationships based on who we think others want us to be rather than on who we really are counteract authentic connections.”

Tip: Don’t compromise who you are for the sake of making connections. Sure, you might need to reel it in (or become a little more outgoing) in order to make a professional impression, but be authentic to build trusting and valuable relationships.

2. Being negative

Are you a ‘glass half empty’ kind of person? While you might find that considering worst-case scenarios, keeping your feet on the ground and being wary of overt optimism works for you, there’s no denying that being around negative people just isn’t fun.

VC Evan Carmichael explains how damaging negativity can be in this post on his blog

“You may have heard the analogy of the human brain being compared to a computer hard drive. That is actually an excellent analogy because once information in any form is received, it is embedded into the neurons of the brain. Once information is embedded, it can be difficult to remove, just like when trying to remove information from a computer.

Experiencing negative situations or negative people not only changes the structure of the brain, but memories of those interactions get stored in the cells of the body and remain long after the event took place.”

Tip: Becoming aware of your negative attitude will help you learn to control it. Try mindfulness meditation to help you live in the here and now and reduce stress and emotional reactivity.

3. Tardiness and failing to respond

Is there anything more annoying than that person who’s always late for meetings, doesn’t answer the phone and never replies to your emails?

Yes, you’re busy, but being unavailable sends the message that you just don’t care.

Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick, founders of The Culture Works noticed that the best leaders are never too busy to respond…

“Even though everyone feels busier than ever, the most effective leaders we have studied all share a similar set of characteristics. One is that they give the people around them their full attention. That means doing simple, respectful things, like finding time at least several times a day to respond to emails, even if it’s a quick, “I’m under water. Can we talk on Thursday?” And most of these leaders have an astounding ability to concentrate on the task at hand.”

Tip: Don’t use business as an excuse for neglecting relationships and conversations. Set reminders for meetings and make sure you set aside time each day to reply to people who’ve been trying to reach you.

4. Making promises you can’t keep

It can be easy to get overexcited about certain projects and underestimate the amount of time, effort or resource needed to complete them.

Sam Briones of Globial believes the inability to keep your promises could result in a business disaster…

“One of the fastest ways to ruin a business relationship is to overpromise or overcommit to something, and then under deliver, or not deliver at all! Of course, acts like these can make for really angry and disappointed business partners who may feel like it is not worth to continue a business relationship with you anymore.”

Tip: Make sure you have a system in place to help you accurately estimate how much time, money or effort something will cost before you promise it. If you’re not sure, be honest, your contacts will be grateful in the long run.

How do you think we self sabotage business relationships? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: anna gutermuth via Compfight cc