7 Communication Tips for Business Partners
© 2023 Richard Chandler, MA, LPC, Business Partners Counselor, with Amy Collett and Sam Rosenberg
Trouble Communicating with Your Business Partner?
Have you found it challenging to communicate with your business partner? Has your business partner said things that frustrated and upset you, but you let slide?
Over time, with new frustrations, tension can build and affect your business’s health - unless you and your business partner devote time and effort to fostering candid, open communication. This article draws on my experience as a Business Partners Counselor, Marriage Therapist, and Executive Coach to share seven helpful communication tips.
Although learning to communicate more effectively with your partner can be challenging, it can make the difference between a healthy, thriving business and a forced buyout agreement, or even worse, a business failure.
1. Address Problems with Your Business Partner by 1st Acknowledging Your Shared Goals
Fostering healthy communication goes smoother when both participants feel safe and comfortable. To help create a safer environment, focus on what you have in common to orient your thinking and actions.
- Remind yourself and your business partner that you want the same thing - a successful business.
- Remember why you entered your business partnership; what initially brought you together.
- When your business faces difficult times, realize it impacts both of you.
- Recognize that you and your business partner have shared goals. Doing so helps you both to empathize with each other’s viewpoints.
2. Set Clear Communication Boundaries with Your Business Partners
Setting boundaries with your business partners about how you communicate and cooperatively work together creates clarity and safety, enhancing the effectiveness of your working relationship. Doing so is essential to healthy communication.
By setting those boundaries proactively, you prevent potential communication issues before they arise rather than react to miscommunication.
5 Useful Areas to Set Boundaries with your Business Partner:
- Agree on a schedule for regularly meeting to discuss the day-to-day issues and future planning.
- Talk through how you can structure your business partner meetings to make your time together productive.
- Agree on the division of labor between you.
- Discuss and decide how to handle things when one of you has reached your limit and says “no.”
- Set boundaries of how you will communicate with the rest of your employees and teammates so you and your partner(s) remain a united front.
For more tips on setting boundaries with your business partner, read this article about communicating frustration to your business partner – without leading to an argument.
3. Why Schedule Regular Business Partner Check-ins?
The more you communicate about simple matters, the easier it will be to communicate when trouble arises. You will develop an understanding of how your business partner processes information and makes decisions.
Regularly scheduled workflow and communication meetings between you and your business partners provide opportunities to air concerns before they become problems. In addition, if you already have check-ins on the schedule, when an issue that requires further discussion arises, you do not need to take time away from the business operations to address them.
Meetings between you and your business partner are essential for business operations – they make communicating easier and encourage proactive responses to potential issues.
4. Understand Your Business Partner’s Psychological Personality Type with a Myers-Briggs® Step II Assessment
A powerful tool to foster clearer communication is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Personality Assessment. It helps you better understand how you and your business partners perceive the world, process information, and make decisions. Having this information about your business partner – and vice versa – is an advantage that leads to healthy communication.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Assessment
The basic Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® assessment determines where you fall along four broad spectrums of personality types:
- Introversion vs. Extroversion
- Sensing vs. Intuition
- Thinking vs. Feeling
- Judging vs. Perceiving
These categories help you develop a rudimentary language for understanding communication and problem-solving differences.
Myers-Briggs® Step II Assessment
The next level of assessment, the Myers-Briggs® Step II, probes deeper into these categories and identifies the different facets of your personality makeup to understand better how you function and interact with the world.
As a certified MBTI ® Master Practitioner, I can help you and your business partner navigate and understand these assessments to understand each other better.
5. Build Trust With Your Business Partner by Practicing Radical Honesty
- Radical honesty, as put forth by Brad Blanton, Ph.D., is, at its core, the concept that even minor instances of lying cause a great deal of harm and suffering in the world.
- Even small white lies that, at the moment, feel like the least painful option for everyone will create more problems in the long run than telling the truth.
- Although it can feel uncomfortable, practicing radical honesty is intended to deepen connection and understanding with those around you.
- You can utilize radical honesty in your business partnership to significant effect. If you and your business partners commit to this value system, you can be confident that there are no secrets between you.
Knowing everything is out in the open can help you feel much more comfortable sharing your thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Even if someone makes a mistake, knowing you have open lines of communication will lead to an environment of openness, acceptance, and forgiveness.
6. Encourage Humility in Business Partners Communications
Start conversations - especially challenging ones - from the assumption that both you and your business partner want the best for your business. Connecting well with your business partners recognizes humility’s importance in business partner communications.
Applying humility in your business partners’ communications is not generally discussed, but it has real value in how you get along and how collaboratively your organization functions. Humility has roots in nearly all major world religions and philosophical value systems.
The Impact of Humility on Your Business Partnership
Humility “often entails the recognition and appreciation of knowledge and guidance beyond the self,” an understanding that other people and groups have much to offer you. You benefit by seeking to understand what you can learn from others (Owens et al, p 1518).
According to a scientific study of the role of humility in work environments, “expressed humility was positively related to team contribution ratings.” (Owens et al, p 1533). In other words, in organizations where humility was expressed as an organizational value and in personal interactions, people felt more motivated to contribute and perform above and beyond what was required.
Expressing humility in the workplace has a scientifically measurable effect on the comfort level of others you work with. The recognition that someone you work closely with values your contributions makes it easier to value theirs. Attempting to look beyond your needs in a given situation can strengthen communications with your business partner and increase openness.
7. Achieve Better Communication by Using a Business Partners Counseling Expert
If you are experiencing communication issues with your business partner or want to build a strong foundation to avoid future problems, consider hiring a business partners’ counseling expert to meet with you and talk about your situation.
Business partners’ counseling combines the disciplines of psychotherapy and executive coaching to help your business thrive. As a Business Partners Counselor, I serve business partners whose relationship is damaged – or who seek to build a strong foundation – by using couples counseling skills to revitalize communication, cooperation, and confidence.
Why Use a Business Partners Counselor?
A psychotherapist without extensive business experience lacks the context and business acumen to understand the business’s dynamics. An executive coach without exposure to counseling practices may not appreciate how building a solid business partnership resembles communication in personal relationships.
Pursuing assistance from someone who combines these skills with extensive professional experience in both fields provides a holistic and proven path forward for success in revitalizing your business partnership and the business itself.
Brad Blanton, Ph.D. © 2019. "The Core Principles of Radical Honesty." Accessed online via https://www.radicalhonesty.com/core-principles-radical-honesty.
Bradley P. Owens, Michael D. Johnson, Terence R. Mitchell. 2013. "Expressed Humility in Organizations: Implications for Performance, Teams, and Leadership. Organization Science 24(5): 1517-1538. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1120.0795