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October 27, 2009

The Business Break-up: Conversation Required

There comes a time in many business relationships when it just isn’t working out anymore. Either you no longer want to work with your client or you sense that your client many need a different resource/service/etc. They say breaking is hard to do. Yes, it is uncomfortable and something that you would like to avoid altogether.

Enter email, texting, voicemail. It is amazing to me how people use and abuse these forms of communication especially when it comes to the break up. If you have had a relationship with a client, even a tenuous one, emailing, texting or leaving a voicemail to break up with your client is NOT a professional way to end the business engagement. (The only exception, perhaps, is one that requires legal intervention.)

In any other case, it seems only reasonable and adult-like to either pick up the phone or meet in person– as awkward as it may be. Just like in dating – breaking up via technology is lame.

We admit it is tough to uphold this standard (sometimes a piss off text seems like just what the doctor ordered) and to take the time out to handle things in the best way possible. But, let’s be clear! When breaking up IS a necessary end, it is important to do it right - that is to say professionally and respectfully and with a CONVERSATION.

Let’s discuss all the benefits of a conversation:

1. It demonstrates your respect for the customer & the work you have done together in the past

2. It demonstrates the respect that you have for yourself as a professional and your commitment to handle things as such

3. It may provide an opportunity for feedback (constructive or perhaps otherwise)

4. It may provide an opportunity for you to make referrals (for the client to work with someone else or for the client to refer you to others)

5. It allows for professional closure

Emails and texting are INCREDIBLE means of communication but all “relationship defining conversations” (especially those that end the relationship) should happen voice-to-voice or face-to-face.

It is more important to behave like a mensch for you and your business in the long run.
posted by Amy Abrams

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