Personal and business vows are easy to make but hard to keep

Virtually no one has their fingers crossed, just in case, when standing at the altar or sitting at a conference table to sign a contract. Unfortunately, however, some marriages do go bust and many business mergers crater after the honeymoon.

The reasons why have plagued theologians, business executives, partnerships and innumerable others following the words “I Do” that are uttered to cement a relationship.

Myriad elements fuel a breach, be they incompatibility, anger, jealousy, misinterpretation or failure to perform as envisioned.

I’ll leave the marriage issues to those qualified, but in this column, I will tackle the most significant reasons, from my experiences, why business deals with lofty expectations turn from a wonderful dream to an absolute nightmare.

It all starts with one word: COMMUNICATION.

In business, when people are not on the same page regarding ultimate goals, tactical expectations and expected outcomes, a fissure forms. If not recognized quickly, this typically leads to a significant earthquake that fractures the relationship.

Open and honest, and sometimes painful, discussion is the best method I’ve learned to avoid this outcome. The first step is to include only the relevant parties — the fewer the number, the better. Always meet behind closed doors and leave emotion on the other side of the threshold.

This works effectively with personnel issues, performance shortfalls and attitudinal matters. There is nothing better than just laying the cards on the table with both sides involved in airing their perspective on the dirty laundry.

The ground rule I’ve used in the past is to ask the other side to succinctly state their position, preferably without raising voices, shedding tears or pounding the table. Listening is key to understanding the issues behind the issue and discovering the real problem. While one side talks, the other must remain mute, no matter how ludicrous the comments may seem.

Next comes the response. What is essential is to be sure the reaction is thoughtful and not a litany of excuses. At this point, it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. Frequently after venting hostilities, the gap may not even seem as irreconcilable as initially thought.

My agreement with all my top executives and acquired companies was simple: if they didn’t agree with an order or decision I had made, they had the right and the obligation to tell me. After gaining this added insight, I always provided the rationale for my thinking.

Sometimes I might modify a decision, and occasionally I rescinded an order or changed it based on hearing another perspective.

This process frequently resulted in an equitable resolution. The unhappy person occasionally even had an “aha” moment and agreed with my proposed initial action.

This venting doesn’t always work and sometimes a parting of ways is the best solution. A fast stay-or-go decision is much better than the drama of protracted posturing that only leads to more of a gap and an unhappy ending.

If only personal/marriage relationship issues could be solved like business disagreements, many honeymoons might continue. ●

Visit Michael Feuer’s website to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”

Michael Feuer

Founder and CEO