When business partners have been working together for a longer period of time and are sitting around the table with us, we often see that they run into the same issues, even though the personalities, the types of companies and the circumstances are very different. The energy that was so palpable in the beginning and made everything seem to go automatically, has changed into a situation where there is a regular ‘battle’ about all kinds of issues. It eats up energy and the characteristic ‘lightness’ at the start of the business has become ‘heaviness’. How can this be? you ask yourself.
As a rule, we distinguish two common situations here.
One situation that occurs frequently is a collaboration where too little structure or clarity has been applied. Lack of clarity in decision making, expectations, positioning, role division, commitment and / or appreciation and reward. Because this was a new venture at the time, the entrepreneurs simply set to work, in action mode. This offers a lot of flexibility and agility, which is worth a lot. As long as communication between them is good, this minimal structure can work just fine. However, when communication comes under pressure, for whatever reason, the first cracks can appear in the relationship. The question is then to what extent you are able to reflect together on the incidents and discuss the underlying dynamics.
The other situation we often encounter is one in which the structure or clarity is there but the mutual relationship has come under pressure due to an accumulation of frustrations and dissatisfaction. We see this in partners who blame each other. Along the way they have forgotten to name relevant issues together and to start the (real) conversation.
In both cases, there is perspective. Restoration of the relationship is possible when the dominant narrative (the interaction that doesn’t work) is replaced by an alternative narrative (the interaction that does work).
We are happy to help shape that alternative future. After all, you can fight about the past but not about the future.
For more True Conversations, see www.partner-mediation.com
Thanks to Maarten Bakker and Chris Bos.