This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.
Real business relationships—ones based on a foundation of trust—are a lot like those personal partnerships. They require a commitment to talking about the tough stuff and a willingness to put the relationship on the table, much the same way you might put a project plan on the table. Trusted advisors, after all, are safe havens for their clients’ tough issues. And getting real means taking the leap and initiating difficult conversations for the relationship’s benefit. (Yes, that means it’s on you, not on them.) This takes both courage and skill.
Think about a challenging business relationship. (If one doesn’t come immediately to mind, think about the person with whom you dread interacting, either a lot or a little.) Are certain topics being avoided? Are negative patterns being ignored? What isn’t being said that needs to be said? Write down the issues in their simplest, most raw form first—preferably in 10 words or fewer. Then think about how you might say what needs to be said.