7 Strategies for a Business Partner Who Stops Communicating
© 2023 Richard Chandler, MA, LPC
This article highlights reasons for communication breakdowns that impair the health of a business partnership. We give strategies to identify the root cause of those breakdowns and provide practical steps toward resolving issues and improving communication.
1. Ask What Led to Your Business Partnership Communication Breakdown?
If your business partnership’s communication has deteriorated, ask yourself: “How did we get here?” Business partnerships can break down for many reasons. Whatever the cause, it is essential to identify and work to address it if you want to salvage your business partnership or even the business itself.
A Business partner’s communication may go silent when:
- One partner senses a lack of trust and respect.
- One partner feels unheard or undervalued.
- Communication styles are so different that a partner thinks, “Why bother?”
- Differing personalities contribute to conflict
Evaluate the factors that could have led to your business partner's lack of communication
When you weigh factors, try to put yourself in your business partners’ shoes. Emotions can run high when one or more parties feel wronged, and the stakes are high. Humility and empathy play vital roles in addressing tension. An awareness of the factors that led to this breakdown, from both perspectives, will help create conditions for reconciliation.
2. Can Differing Personalities Silence Your Business Partner?
Differing personalities can also lead to communication breakdowns. For example, one partner may be more introverted and prefer to work independently, while the other is more extroverted and likes collaborating. If those differences are not acknowledged, tension and misunderstandings often occur.
Differing personalities can manifest as different communication styles.
Differences may have created enough tension over time, so your business partner would rather avoid communication altogether than work to navigate through them. Learning the language and tools to acknowledge and adjust to personality differences can be essential to the success of a business partnership. Consider gaining insights through a Myers-Briggs® assessment to understand those differences.
3. Schedule a Formal Talk with Your Non-communicative Business Partner
Your business partnership is one of your most important relationships; it impacts your business’s health and satisfaction with your working environment. Demonstrate to your business partner that your relationship matters and that you prioritize its health by scheduling a meeting to discuss these issues.
Scheduling a formal meeting shows that working through disagreements and continuing to communicate with your business partner is of value to you.
For further reading on this topic, please see the middle section of our article, My Business Partner Wants to Quit. What Can I Do?
4. How Has Your Lack of Communication Adversely Impacted Your Business and Co-Workers?
Poor communication between business partners has a tangible impact on the entire business, which can be felt in myriad ways and at every business level. A faltering business partnership affects operations, sales, employee satisfaction, and many other facets of your business. Team members notice, and their concern lowers morale.
The Value of Effective Communication in Organizations
Professors Owen Hargie and Dennis Tourish extensively analyzed the value of communication in organizations in their book Auditing Organizational Communication: A Handbook of Research, Theory & Practice. By evaluating the existing literature and providing new case studies, Hargie and Tourish came to some important conclusions about communication in organizations:
“[H]igh quality communication inside organizations, and between them and their external publics, produces many tangible benefits. These include a sane internal atmosphere where teamwork is the norm, more satisfied employees and customers, greater levels of productivity and innovation, and sustained competitive advantage … [T]he tools of communication are an organization’s most vital resource in the daily battle for survival" (Hargie and Tourish, p. xv).
When communication in an organization breaks down, it reverberates at all levels of the organization. Sharing what you noticed - and the impact on your business - with your business partner can go a long way toward rebuilding your partnership.
Frame this discussion from the standpoint of what you have noticed, and be aware that it may differ from what your business partner has observed. Leave room for both partners to contribute to this discussion.
5. Ask Your Business Partner(s) to Share Their Thoughts, Feelings, Observations & Insights On Why Communication Ceased
Ask your business partner to share their thoughts, feelings, observations, and insights into the communication breakdown as:
- It allows both parties to gain a better understanding of the underlying issues
- It creates space to identify misunderstandings or miscommunications that may have contributed to the breakdown.
- It shows your business partner that you value their input and are committed to working towards healthy communication.
- It sets you on the path toward a resolution by finding ways to improve communication moving forward.
Ensuring your business partner understands that you value their insight and feelings for why the communication broke down can be crucial to finding a way forward.
6. Together, Foster Renewed Communication with Your Business Partner
Once you and your business partner understand what led to the breakdown in communication, it’s time to work together to create a plan for how to move forward. This plan should include specific actions and strategies for improving communication between you. Consider the following ideas:
- Set regular check-ins to discuss ongoing projects and issues
- Agree on communication methods and preferences (e.g. email, phone, in-person)
- Establish clear roles and responsibilities for each partner
- Identify potential areas of conflict and developing strategies for addressing them
7. Use a Business Partners Counselor to Help Mend Your Relationship
If you need help to improve communication with your business partner, it may be worth seeking outside help. An executive coach with experience in marriage counseling can help you and your partner communicate more effectively and work through any lingering issues.
The Value of Working with a Business Partners Counselor
A trained professional can provide an objective perspective and offer strategies for improving communication and rebuilding trust. As an experienced, uniquely qualified Business Partners Counselor, I serve business professionals whose relationship has deteriorated by applying the skillset of couples counseling to repair their business partnership.
Learn more about Business Partners Counseling and whether it fits your business partner and you at this link.
Hargie, O., & Tourish, D. (2009). Handbook of Communication Audits for Organizations. Routledge.