70. Professional Relationships: Boundaries in Business Leadership, Part 6

professional relationshipsIn the sixth and final part of our boundaries in business leadership series, Sarah Stokes and I discuss setting boundaries in our professional relationships.  We explore topics such as defining roles and responsibilities, expectations and measurements of success, dealing with conflicts, and maintaining healthy business relationships. 

We share our personal experiences with professional relationships, and provide insights and tips on how to effectively manage business relationships.  Clear boundaries and effective communication are essential to prevent misunderstandings and feelings of resentment.  We end with some advice on how to handle situations when a business relationship isn’t working and how to preserve a personal connection while changing the professional relationship.  

Learn more about Sarah HERE.

Main Episode Takeaways

  • Effective professional relationships need to have clear boundaries, starting with an understanding of our roles and responsibilities.   
  • Business relationships are working agreements that must be revisited from time to time.
  • Failed business relationships are usually the result of poor boundaries.  Either we did not clearly establish the boundaries, did not communicate the boundaries, or did not stay in our own lanes. 

Want to learn more about boundaries?

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70. Professional Relationships: Boundaries in Business Leadership, Part 6

Mary: Let’s talk boundaries. I’m here with Sarah Stokes and we are part six of Boundaries and Business Leadership. Today we’re diving in to talk about boundaries in our business relationships. Ooh. 

Sarah: Yep. Can get hot in here. Getting, getting a little sizzly, a little salty sometimes, maybe. 

Mary: Mm-hmm. It could be. Huh. Yeah. So let’s talk about our business relationships and maybe why we need some boundaries there.

Sarah: Oh, wow. Because what an opportunity to get really taking it personally. ‘Cause when we are in a relationship and there’s business involved, we’re all humans, being humany and what do we do? We default to like how stuff can hurt our feelings or why we’re unappreciated or not enough whatever, compensation, too much work. The opportunities for resentment are endless here. Mm-Hmm. Endless. 

Mary: Absolutely. And sometimes we have business partnerships or relationships that don’t include a personal relationship, but most of the time I find that our business relationships have some level of personal relationship where we develop a friendship over time or we get to know each other a little bit better, we share about our personal lives, our struggles, our families, and then that’s where we really need some boundaries. Mm-Hmm. Yeah, and sometimes we even start out as a personal relationship and then create a business partnership as well. And those are the ones where I think it gets even more sticky. 

Sarah: Oh yeah, I, I could write a book on that one. Absolutely. Yes. 

Mary: Yeah, yeah. 

Sarah: There’s hope, right? There are things we can do. So if you’re listening to this, good job, you’ve taken step one. 

Mary: That’s right. So listeners, let’s talk about your business relationships. Who do we have relationships with that are business relationships? We’ve got coworkers, we’ve got team members. We’ve got sometimes a supervisor or an assistant. Sometimes we have business partnerships. They might be friends or family or spouses or kinds of things. Yeah. 

Sarah: Yeah. And they come in all shapes and sizes, right? Mm-Hmm. The family ones and the spousal ones, and the friends that wanna do a business. Yeah. It’s, it’s infinite numbers of combinations and all ripe for misunderstandings, miscommunications, and also a lot of success. Mm-Hmm. Right? There can be this magic that happens when you are in relationship and that’s what can make this business really sing. We just have to have boundaries. So hence why we’re doing this.

Mary: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. The benefits of collaborating are so like endless, right? It could really, really serve your business. It could really serve you to have a partner, to have a team to yeah, just have people that you’re rubbing shoulders with. It can make it so much more fulfilling. It can make it more successful. And the more people that you bring into your professional life and your business circles, the more boundaries you’re gonna need to get really clear about so that we’re all on the same page about what’s our expectation and what’s our lanes. So Sarah, can you think of an example of, either of yourself or you’ve heard of or experienced where maybe our business relationships haven’t had a boundary and we’ve had to learn that lesson a little, the hard way.

Sarah: Oh yeah. Well, I mean, I lived it, so my husband and I owned a company together for nine years, and before that we worked together for another, I mean, we’ve worked together for 20 years at this point of my most recent business change. And what happened was our team was seeing the same Chris and Sarah, they would call us mom and dad. Right? Because we were acting the same way we would in our living room, in our company. And that was sometimes great because we were rocking it, and sometimes it was highly dysfunctional, right? We did not have that concept of boundaries. And I’ve seen and worked with closely, lots of different kinds of partnerships. A lot of married folks, and a lot of people that were both, you know, experts in their own right and they come together and make a company. And like I said, the, the potential for resentment is huge. Why? Because human nature is to make sure that you survive, right? Our brain is programmed so that we survive the day and when we see all these things with another business owner or a partner or someone in your organization, there’s this underlying like innate, primal need to survive. 

And when we are in a relationship with somebody, it can be very, very hairy and messy if you somewhere deep down perceive that they’re a threat or that you’re gonna lose out somehow. Right? So we have to have boundaries so that everybody knows the playing field we’re on, right? And it doesn’t change all the time. And how do we create that stability and certainty and clear boundary workplace? And it takes a lot of leadership to make that happen, but when you do, it actually is just the way you thrive. Mm-Hmm. I’ve seen it work really well and I’ve seen it go totally south. And my hope is that this podcast gives somebody a tool today so that they don’t have to experience it going south ’cause that life is too short to suffer that way. 

Mary: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. So let’s talk about some tips on how to have boundaries in our business relationships. Mm-Hmm. And what I think of first is one to clearly define your lane. Yes, right? Yes. Let’s start with those expectations. This is what I am bringing to this business relationship. This is what I will do. This is what I will not do. This is what you can expect of me. This is what I can expect of myself. And for the other person too, this is your lane, and this is how you are going to show up to this business relationship. This is what you bring. This is what you don’t do. Right? So that we are like, as crystal clear as possible, right? Kind is clear. So as crystal clear as possible about who’s doing what, and then also what our desired outcome is and what our measurement of success is. Mm-Hmm. So we will know that you have contributed and stayed in your lane if this… we will know that we’ve been successful in this partnership if this… we will know that you’re not contributing the way we’ve agreed if this… and have a clear understanding of what that looks like. What are your thoughts about that?

Sarah: Oh, I smile because none of us would take a job, if you’re out there on an indeed without knowing what are the duties as assigned and what’s the compensation? Mm-Hmm, right? When am I working and how long and when do my benefits kick in? We wouldn’t take a job like that, but yet as business leaders or owners. How many times do we just start a company and we go and you’re in survival mode. You’ve never once laid out any of the things that a normal Indeed Job ad would have because we just do all the things and we survive and we build and we grow, and it’s exciting. And then you look around and you’re trying to have systems and operations. Nobody at the top has asked these questions, right? They were probably the first people in the door making this exciting thing happen, and we never stopped to actually have these questions outlined, and that’s why I agree with you, Mary. It’s truly mission critical that you as the owner, as the leader, you know exactly what your job is too. 

I have lots of my clients. I have, I have them make their own job description and compensation plan because they’ve never done it. And so when we can show up in a relationship that way, that makes everything easier actually. We think it’s gonna be hard. We think it’s gonna be too much work, or we’ll put it on quarter fours goals. Maybe next year we’ll hire a strategist to come in and do strategic planning. So year 20, we finally do this. Give yourself the gift of doing this now and staying in your own lane is actually the road to being energetically clean and clear with each other. And that’s when your business and your life gets so much better because you’re not taking things as personally. You’re not over giving and then resenting them. You have some parameters to show up in, right? Mm-Hmm. And then you have so much more bandwidth because you’re not so busy thinking about who’s doing what and I’m do, are we doing the same amount and the fairness and the justice and all that stuff that can get riled up in our brains?

You have so much more bandwidth to grow your company and build the culture that you want. Mm-Hmm. Because I can guarantee if you are in relationship and business with people who aren’t that like partner or that close person or the, you know, spouse you’re working with, the brother you’re working with, the kid you’re working with. You treat others with that cultural like expectation, you show up differently for the other team members. But when you have this close relationship with somebody, or you’re showing up and you’re both owners, man, it, it’s like we set different rules for ourselves. Mm-Hmm. And, and they’re so fuzzy that we can’t thrive. Mm-Hmm. And that’s when people go home and complain to their loved one at home and say, well, I can’t believe so-and-so is doing this, and pretty soon you’re eroding the very health of your business and pretty soon that relationship can’t survive it. Yeah. 

So being proactive and making your own lane is everything. And it’s not too late. I’ve had people do this after 30 years in business because they hadn’t stopped to do it, but don’t kick the can down the road. Your business health will thank you for it. Your own satisfaction with this other human you wanna have a good rapport with, it will thank you for it later. Right? And there’s a tool I love to recommend to boil it down. ’cause I know we think it’s too hard and it’s overwhelming. And it’s called Traction. It’s a book that was put out in 2012. It lays out like how to start having these lanes, how to start having expectations and accountability for the whole organization, whether you’re one person or 20 or 250. And it starts with the people at the top right? The visionary, the integrator. And you can read about it, but it, it gives you a framework that I just can’t recommend more for $12, you know? Mm-Hmm. And that will outline the how, right? Because a lot of people don’t know how, but now within any framework, you decide to have. Which the biggest thing in there is having a same page meeting for the people who are running the business. Within that, they need to have these boundary conversations though, so you can lay your lane out all day. Now we need to show up boundaried,, right? Absolutely. 

Mary: So yes, kind of step one is get really clear about what your lane is. Yeah. Write it down so you have documented it so you can refer back to it because sometimes two people can be in the same meeting and have a different memory of what was communicated and so use that book traction if you need it. And then once you kind of understand what you’re supposed to be doing, what your agreement is with each other, that’s not the end of it. No, because this is a working relationship. Business relationships are working relationships. If you have a partnership, if you have a team, you have a coworker, this is a working relationship. And so of course you have an agreement at the beginning and then you have to have an ongoing conversation or way to check in with each other. Mm-Hmm. And say, Hey, I know I said that this was my lane and that this was your lane and we agreed to this. Is this still working for us? How is it going? 

Sarah: Yeah, that’s huge. Is this still working for us? What a revolutionary question that we probably don’t ask because we just assume everybody’s in it and we’re doing it and we’re in it to win it. And somebody might need a recalibration. Maybe they are like, you know what, I’m, I’m overloaded in operations, but you don’t know until you, until you have that conversation. Yeah. And that will prevent a whole lot of heartburn versus that person being overloaded and, and silently suffering. 

Mary: Yeah. And I would almost suggest that we expect that our business relationships are going to change because our business needs are going to change as time changes and our environment changes and we learn and grow. And so I think an ongoing conversation about is this relationship working? Is this still working? What part of it’s working? What part of it maybe we wanna change a little bit? That that is an ongoing conversation. Yeah, it’s not, it doesn’t mean something’s gone wrong. If someone says, Hey, we need to have a conversation about if this is working for us, or what’s your lane? What’s my lane? What’s our measurement of success here? We get the outcomes that we want? That doesn’t mean anything’s gone wrong. That just means I care about us. I care about our shared interest enough to show up to this conversation with you. 

Sarah: Yeah, mic drop right there. What a truly like inspiring moment. I wish everybody would do this for themselves, truly. But we get so caught up right in the fires that we’re putting out every day. That’s why we have to know how critical it is to nurture the health of our business relationships. That’s, it’s just critical. So that’s so inspiring mary. I’m like, put a Mary in your boardroom. Let’s go. Right. Put her in your pocket and take this with you because “I care about us enough to have this conversation,” is such a reframe. Mm-Hmm. That diffuses so much defensiveness, I hope that I really rewind that part, listener and re-listen to that. ’cause coming in with that intention could be so powerful.

Mary: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. And the idea that the work we’re doing is important to me. The outcome is important to me. Our success is important to me and the health of this business is important to me, so that’s why I wanna show up and have this conversation. So I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been coaching someone and I say to them, let’s talk about the people that you’re working with, right? Maybe they have a team. And I say, well, you know, what’s this person’s job function, responsibility? And they’ll say something like, well, that person, they just needed a job. Yep. And I’m like, well, is there a business need for that person? Well, kinda, maybe a little bit. Definitely not a full-time need or even the amount we’re contracting for. Yep. But you know. I just felt bad for ’em. I don’t, they have a lot going on. Mm-Hmm. I just didn’t wanna Mm-Hmm. You know? Mm-Hmm. And I do know, I totally understand and I care about people too, but when you have a business relationship, it needs to be meeting a business need.

Sarah: Yeah. Yep. That is so much more common than I think anybody even wants to admit. And perhaps you hired somebody and they did meet a business need and the company outgrew their skill set, and you keep finding ways to justify their salary or finding ways to justify, and you just, yeah, you gotta have these same conversations of what do we need? What is the business need, and is this meeting it? Because, you know, nobody wants to feel like they’re a should as a team member either. Absolutely. Yeah. It might create some shallow, you know, comfort of a, a paycheck, but in the end, we know people are driven by, by having a purpose. Mm-Hmm. And so if, if they feel like a should or they find out that you’re just kind of stringing ’em along because you feel bad, it actually isn’t doing anything for them in the end of the game, right? So, yeah. 

Mary: Yeah. Absolutely. And sometimes we thought we might need that person. Yeah. Or maybe we did and then our needs changed and we have to get real with ourselves as leaders about that too. Mm-Hmm. 

Sarah: Yes. And get real with what are we tolerating too? So it may be that we tried to air quotes, save somebody’s day by hiring them. And then there comes a time too when we are tolerating some pretty bad behavior in our business relationships because we don’t wanna deal with it and we don’t wanna lead ourselves through that moment. And like you said, we have to get really real. I mean, I personally would walk around the other side of our office building the one that I owned and paid for everyone’s salary in, to avoid leading. And I smile now because I’ve got some distance from it. And we’re, we’re all good now. 

Mary: What were you avoiding? 

Sarah: Poor behavior. 

Mary: What? Poor behavior from your employee? 

Sarah: Yes. Mm-Hmm. Yes. 

Mary: Well, that’s ironic, isn’t it? 

Sarah: Isn’t it? It’s very ironic. Yep. And so I waited until, bless her heart, our cleaning helper. She led me into a conversation to address the poor behavior because she had had it. Seriously, I’m not making this up. She’s like, Sarah, something needs to change. And I’m like, okay, get, I didn’t, I wasn’t feeling courageous enough in that moment, right? What was my underlying need? I didn’t want that job back on my plate. Hmm. I had finally gotten all that off my plate, hired a person that was not a great match for our culture. Hmm. And then my lovely cleaning friend was like, Hey, let’s handle this. 

Mary: And so that’s a kick in the pants. 

Sarah: It sure was. But she was courageous in that moment. She was a leader and, and I finally got the motivation, the external motivation to handle it. But I’m telling you, we do this kind of stuff. I coach women all the time who are tolerating people that are just nasty even, and again, it’s not about the human, it’s our opportunity for growth, right? Mm-Hmm. It’s not even about them. They’re not a bad person. Mm-Hmm. It’s about our stepping into our leadership, us saying, you know what? This actually, I’m, I’m tolerating something here that isn’t a fit. And so yes, I can laugh about it now. And I released her to her, her better future, and she gave me the dirtiest look on the way out the door. And I thought, oh my goodness. And a year later I get a, a wonderful note saying, that was the best thing that you could have done for me. And I wasn’t expecting that, looking for that, but we never know how actually leading and having a boundary, even if it takes a ridiculous impetus, right? It can actually be their blessing too. So I, oh, like you said, you’ve heard me say it again and again, what gets you out of your own way? Sometimes it’s that knowing that when you have these boundary conversations with someone you’re in a relationship with in your business. When you do it, you might be opening the door for something way better for them, right? If they need to exit your organization. And same with having that sweaty 10 minute conversation with your partner if you own something together. I. It’s for the good of everybody to just have these talks. 

Mary: Yeah. Yeah. So that brings up a good question about what are we willing to tolerate and not willing to tolerate in our business relationships? And one of the things that come up for me as an example is something I’m not willing to tolerate in any relationships, including my business relationships. Is name-calling, hateful language. That is just a way that I am not willing to communicate. I’m not willing to call names. I’m not willing to participate in hateful language. I’m not willing to be called mean things. And so that’s kind of a deal breaker for me. And I’m unapologetic about it. I’m not willing to participate in a relationship with someone who has called me names or people I love names or said mean things about groups of people that I, you know, have compassion for. And I might speak up one time and say kind of that Oreo cookie of, you know, I expect respectful conversations and name-calling is never okay for me, and I trust that you’ll honor that in the future. But if it happens a second time I am willing to end that relationship. And that I learned the hard way and I think is also something that comes up often. Like how do we handle when we have a business relationship with someone who you know is having an emotional response? Mm-Hmm. Someone who, you know, there’s gonna be conflict, there’s gonna be disagreements. Like how do we handle that? And what do we tolerate and not tolerate? And I hear that often from my clients. What are your thoughts about that? Hmm. 

Sarah: Well, let’s see. I have learned from you that a boundary for yourself is your self regulation, right? So we need to lead ourselves and if somebody’s having an outburst, old me would’ve sat there and let them vomit it all out, right? Mm-Hmm. I probably would’ve tried to fix it for them. Now if I had that hindsight, I think in our business relationships we could say, alright, if this gets too heated, and especially with co-owners, right, where you have those like really high stakes. They feel conversations, if this gets too heated, I am going to take a walk because I am not willing to participate. Mm-hmm. Right? In an elevated conversation where we’re both dysregulated, I’m gonna come back when I feel regulated. Right? I had no idea that was a, that was an even an option, Mary before. Right? Really growing and, and learning and deciding what am I willing to tolerate? Sarah, of this era? Not even close to what I, I would tolerate stuff all day until it was on someone else. For myself, I would just take it and take it and take it. And I was also a perpetrator. Let’s be honest. I’m gonna own my part. I would get heated and expect that person, right, my business partner slash spouse, to listen to it. Mm-Hmm. Yet if somebody else was talking to a team member like that, no, no, no, no, no. Right? Then I’d get all mama bear on it. So now I think about when I talk to my clients about what’s happening in their businesses with their relationships, it’s the litmus test is would you let somebody come onto your front porch and act that way towards someone you love? And if the answer is no, then why are we doing it in our place of business? Mm-Hmm. Right? Would you let somebody act all crazy on your front porch and yell at your kids? No. 

Mary: Definitely not. 

Sarah: You’d be like bye. Right, or I’m calling the cops. Yes. If it got too crazy. So that’s something we don’t even stop to think about. And we have this high level of tolerance for dysfunction and sometimes it’s coming right out of us. And so we also have to lead ourselves through that. How are we gonna show up here? The group agreement of how are we gonna show up as a business here? And the leaders have to lead that way, walk your talk, match the expectations by showing up as that. And I fell down on that many times. So it’s not too late if you have had dysfunction or high intensity conversations, it’s not too late, you know? Mm-hmm. You can set new agreements right now and say, you know what, this is actually, this just doesn’t, it doesn’t serve anyone. Yeah. How do we wanna show up here? Mm-Hmm. And so, yeah, it’s, it’s real. It’s real. Yeah. 

Mary: Yeah. I wanna just get back really quickly to the kind of name calling and dysregulation parts. So the reason why I don’t tolerate name calling is because I have a hard time staying regulated when that kind of behavior is happening. It’s not that my boundary is that you can or can’t say something. Mm-Hmm. My boundary is that I’m not gonna stay and participate in this conversation, in this meeting, in this engagement, maybe even in this relationship when I can’t stay regulated because I can’t tolerate the name calling. Yeah. So that’s when I know, like I got to get myself to a place where I’ve just been injured by this name calling, so I might need to go for a walk or practice some self-care. Mm-Hmm. Give myself some time off so that I can kind of take care of me. Mm-Hmm. And make sure that I’m showing up in a way that’s regulated. So that’s why it’s a deal breaker for me because of the impact that it has on me. It’s not because I’m trying to control other people in my relationship. And I think that’s an important distinction that oftentimes is misunderstood around boundaries. I’m not trying to control other people’s behavior. I need to be radically in charge of myself, and I know that I can’t show up as my best self to this business relationship when name calling is happening around me. 

Sarah: Yeah, that’s huge. 

Mary: And I agree with you when you said, as leaders, it is our responsibility to uphold our group agreements. Yep. So we facilitate, we set the container, that’s what leadership is. Mm-Hmm. Were ones who say, okay, we have an agreement here. That’s the first half. And the second half is upholding our agreements. Yeah. So it is our responsibility if it, if we’re not doing it, maybe we delegate it to someone else, but most of the time it is us. We’re the ones who are responsible for upholding the agreements, and that’s the ongoing boundary conversation that’s people don’t always feel comfortable having. But here’s what I wanna tell you, and this is the hope, it’s only uncomfortable the first few times. I like to tell people three to five times, you’re probably gonna have the same boundary conversation with the same person before it feels comfortable to you and before it lands with them. And if it’s a business partnership, if it’s a business relationship that you’ve got a personal component, that is worth having that conversation, those few times. 

Sarah: It sure is. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And our brain likes to think it’s, you know, going to kill us to have this conversation. Mm-Hmm. Or that these folks will judge us or dislike us, or not wanna do business with us. But when you frame it, as you did earlier, about like, I care enough to be uncomfortable right now and ask for this opportunity for us to discuss boundaries and our lanes and compensation. That’s a whole big charge around that, right? Mm-Hmm. But you caring enough, this is a sign that you give a dang mm-hmm, about the sustainability and health and the thriving of your business, and it’s just as important as you pricing, as you having ideal clients, right? This is just as critical. This is one of the pillars of business, is that you know how to show up with each other. 

And I can tell you I was one of those cautionary tales where I didn’t wanna do business with my husband the way we were doing it anymore, right? And it needed to end. It was okay. And I’m all good, right? I chose it. But these tools can, can keep somebody else in a happier, healthier ecosystem and it matters and it’s worth it. And like you said, it won’t be long before it’s new normal Mm-Hmm. Where you just, this is just what we do. This is just like inventory or just like right, goal setting. This is as good for your business as anything else. It’s paramount. 

Mary: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. And I wanted to end with what do we do? What are some tips and tools if we have a business relationship that we are concerned is not working. Yeah. Right. And when we have business relationships, there’s often a high level of commitment, a high level of interest in this working. 

Sarah: Yeah. Yep. 

Mary: Right? We’re highly invested in these types of relationships and when we get to a place where we’re like, Shannon, I don’t know if this is working there’s a lot at stake. Mm-Hmm mm-Hmm. Right? And that’s when the boundary work is often hardest is when we have to ask ourselves, is this something that I wanna continue participating in? Mm-Hmm. Is this not something that I’m able to continue participating in? Right. If I were to continue to participate in this, what would I need to make it work for me? If I were not to continue participating in this, how could I preserve the relationship that I am committed to? Because it is possible that you can have a business relationship that has a personal relationship and keep one or the other, either one. We can say, okay, I’m gonna close that chapter and maintain this relationship. I’m gonna close that part and keep this part. Mm-Hmm. That is totally possible. Yep. 

Sarah: Yeah. Yep. Yeah. I’m living that right now. Mm-Hmm. So nice to just be married. Right? So nice. And we’re team members in lots of ways, right? Right. But yeah. So when I think about clear is kind, when it comes to you evaluating if this is still working right? Mm-Hmm. It’s can we also just go there and outline the exit strategies to if your co-founders or co-owners, if you are in a succession plan with someone. I have a client going through that right now, right? Mm-Hmm. She’s selling her business to her kids. There does need to be a plan, a clear plan around if someone wants to leave, what does that look like? So that’s just the tactical right now. The emotional is what would it take? And you can get radically honest with yourself. Mm-Hmm. It would take fridays off and 50% pay raise. Who knows what it is for you. Mm-Hmm. But being willing to be honest about it prevents that future resentment because if you then people please your business relationship partner. It’s, you know how that story ends. We know exactly the last page of that book and it ends with you disappointed and maybe not salvaging the relationship after. Mm-Hmm. So, yeah, it’s, it’s worth it to ask those tough questions. And can we lay the ego on the table when you start, right? It’s like that high stakes poker game. Nobody’s got their phone out, there’s no calculators. You lay it on the table, right? Hands on the table. Mm-Hmm. Our egos are there for a function. They keep us alive, right? But in business, when that pride, when that hurt might wanna come up. Like, can you have that radical conversation where you say, you know what? Let’s, let’s put our egos down for this and just talk heart to heart here. And I love to operate outta the heart. It may not work and resonate for whomever you’re having the conversation with, but it’s worth an ask. Mm-Hmm. Like, we could get totally activated here. How do we wanna care for ourselves all the way through this difficult conversation?

Mary: Yeah. And sometimes we choose to keep our personal relationship and end the business relationship. And I think what I wanna end with is just that same Oreo cookie analogy of what that might sound like. If there’s any listeners out here who are just looking for some words around that I have in the past coached people to say something like, Hey, I love you and I wanna keep you in my family as my brother I’ve decided not to continue this business relationship and I can’t wait to see you at Christmas. Yeah. Yeah. And something really as simple and clear as that is possible. Mm-hmm. 

Sarah: Yeah. And how would you coach them, Mary? If that other person has a massive reaction, then what do they do? 

Mary: I would coach them to expect that person to have a massive reaction. Yeah. Like of course that person is gonna have some feelings about you ending the business part of your relationship. Mm-Hmm. Of course that person is going to have questions about . , we’re gonna give that person all the generous assumptions. Mm mm-Hmm. That person, our generous assumptions are that maybe your brother or whoever it is isn’t ready to end the business part of your relationship. Maybe that person thinks it is working well and you don’t think it’s working well. Yeah. Maybe that person doesn’t understand why you would not wanna continue. Maybe that person isn’t confident of how this change is gonna impact them. We wanna give that person all the generous assumptions and show up with love and compassion for that person at the same time as being really clear about our boundaries.

Sarah: Mm-Hmm. That’s lovely. Yeah, because that can shut us down ahead of time is like that fear of that reaction can just keep us from having that conversation. Yeah. 

Mary: So we just play it out. 

Sarah: Yep. I love that because I’d be the lady just eating the Oreos, not having the Oreo conversation, I’d be in my jammies, shove an Oreo. Like, I don’t wanna do it. I don’t wanna do it. But that is such seasoned wisdom and I love that. Like 

Mary: maybe you have the conversation and then eat the Oreo. 

Sarah: Yeah. And then run for the door. No, I love that. Like of expecting them to have feelings is, why is that so calming? It’s just so calming. And now I’m coming from hindsight is 2020, I’m like, dang it, I needed this back in 2022. Right? So I feel that like expecting them to have the reaction because when I chose to keep my personal relationship and end the business relationship, I had a lot of unmet hopes of how he would show up for me. And I had no preparation of how to meet him where he was at. Right? And it was all my, like needs and ego to be honest, like. Yeah, it was coming in a hurt, like wounded package. Mm-Hmm. But I did not know that I needed to meet him where he was at. And of course he’s gonna have big feelings ’cause I was just in my wounding at that at that time. So that’s such wisdom that I so appreciate about you. So thank you for sharing that with all of us.

Mary: Yeah, I think of course you’re both gonna have big feelings. 

Sarah: Big feelings. Yes. 

Mary: Both of you. So we can have some compassion for both of you. 

Sarah: Turns out we did. Not enough Oreos in the world for that day. Yeah. And we made it. 

Mary: And you made it. We made it then. Okay. Yep. Still standing live to tell. 

Sarah: Yeah. Turns out I’ve got some more boundary learning to do. 

Mary: Awesome. Well, listeners, I would love to hear more about your business relationships and hope that you got some value from this conversation and that the tips and tools around having clarity, about what lane is yours and not yours, having clear measurements of success and some encouragement around some conversations ongoing, and maybe even a hard one if you need it. So take care. 

Sarah: Thank you, Mary.