I had a client recently question some analysis I was doing on a contract and pricing we give them. He made reference to “hidden costs” and the potential that we’re not being forthright. This struck me right in the heart. The simple act of implying that we were potentially hiding costs really hit me hard. My first reaction, after I read this before I jumped in my car post soccer practice, was anger. After all, this is a guy I know well. I consider him a pretty good friend and I believe we have a trusted relationship. Why would he think we are doing something that’s not above board here? I wanted to respond to his email and call him out and question our partnership – that was my first reaction, my reptilian brain coming into play – my flight response (as opposed to my fight response). First reactions are many times not the best course of action – once again, always learning and always observing.
After stewing over this, I realized that this is in fact a great opportunity to further our relationship – to solidify our partnership. I know that there are no hidden costs and I know that we’re striving to add value and be the best partner we can. But it’s up to me to communicate that effectively and to put myself in his shoes. It’s up to me to think from his perspective and whatever concerns he has, I need to acknowledge and accept them, and make him feel at ease. That’s business after all. Actually, that’s life.
We struggle to succumb to these first reactions and to how we feel when we need to take a step back, press pause as our friends at Focus 3 like to say, and think about what’s really behind the situation. And, to think about what the best way to react is going to be. For a minute, I thought about texting my friend/client and questioning the four years we’ve spent developing a relationship. For a minute, I thought like a victim (okay, maybe more like a couple hours). I woke up this morning, however, with a refreshed mind after a good 8 hrs of shut eye and I know the best response is not to overreact. The best response is to come alongside him and help him understand. To continue down the path of authenticity and trust-building. The Obstacle becomes the Way – as Ryan Holiday writes about in his book (you should pick it up by the way!).
We speak often about partnership and trust in our job – our livelihood is based on these trusted relationships. The proof, as it is always, is in the pudding. Everyday we’re faced with moments like this. We can think like a victim or change our focus…and think like a victor. The opportunity is there for us in these moments. I have a call with my friend/client later today to discuss. I’m looking forward to influencing his perspective.
I’ll leave you with this great quote from Holiday’s book:
“What matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.”