We have just entered national “Break-Up” month. January earned this distinction, because, even though bad feelings may have been brewing back in the fall, few are heartless enough to end a relationship before the holidays!
The same is true in business. Right now PR people everywhere are contemplating breaking up with some variation of the following:
- The client who has whittled the budget (but not the workload) down to a mere pittance
- The vendor who has delivered repeatedly late and sloppy product
- The employee who spends his whole day playing Words with Friends and clearly has a foot out the door
If you can’t stand the idea of wasting any more time on an insufferable business relationship, here are some steps to end things in a civil and productive way.
Make sure your financial house is in order. Do you owe each other money? Are there any bills in dispute? Resolve any outstanding financial issues before pulling the plug. Otherwise it may be like asking for the ring back after an engagement ends!
Set a time for the conversation. Preferably in person. Resist the urge to break up online. No one wants to get an electronic “Dear John,” and without eye contact and voice inflection, even the kindest language can be misconstrued.
Be neutral and free of blame. State general reasons for why the partnership no longer works. Take responsibility for actions on your part that may have led to its decline. Keep it as comfortable as you can.
Don’t take “the bait.” If the person you are breaking up with gets angry, accusatory or worse, try to remain calm and keep the conversation focused on the positive. You can even role-play this ahead of time.
Put it in writing. Do it after the fact, so there are no misunderstandings. End on a high note by offering referrals or names of other important contacts who can help this person in their “next chapter.”
And remember, no disparaging remarks on social media or anywhere else! Got any other professional break-up tips to share?« Tuesday Tips: Defining Desksiders | Tuesday Tips: Know Your Role Within The PR Whole »