It is difficult to define the word friend. The closest definition to me is the art of having an understanding and harmonious rapport with another individual. I know this sounds strange but I prefer to have relationships with people versus a friendship. I know that sometimes this gets really confusing and the lines can become blurred. A friendship is somebody that you meet while out in public. You may never see this individual again, but like them enough to be perhaps facebook friendly. A relationship is someone that you develop a trust in, can depend on, share with and communicate on a personal level.
In business we often create friendships but what happens when friendship becomes a relationship and the business contract terminates? Do you take that relationship and move it to a friendship status or do you make it a casualty of doing business? Can it remain a relationship? How does that work when you become personal with a business related spouse and you really like and care about them, but due to business related issues you could no longer be “ friendly” or in a “relationship”. The answer is simple. You need to create business relationship boundaries.
Create your boundaries based on your beliefs and values. For instance; don’t date clients, don’t drink alcohol with your staff, dress conservatively, and handshakes not hugs are a few examples of good business boundaries. It is also good to set this boundary when first establishing a business relationship to let the other party know your working boundaries. For example: Simply stating — I believe in being honest with you especially when it comes to business. I consider myself a valuable asset to you and your company. First and foremost I want you to know I respect you enough to tell you when something is making a negative impact on your company. This sets the overall tone of your relationship. If you have difficulties setting boundaries it would be in your best interest (and your company) to keep your clients on “friendly” terms.
I have had the unfortunate fortune of being in on both types of contract terminations. Friendly and Relationship based. Terminating a business contract when the set boundaries are not honored is less painful. I prefer the termination where the communication lines have been clear and we can remain “friendly” and the business does not suffer. There is too much emotional value lost when your boundaries are not clear. Your business will suffer.
A great reference if you would like to read more on business relationships is a book written by Mike Muhney, CEO & Max J. Pucher, Chief Architect. They are the Founders of VIPorbit Software International, Inc. The book is called Who’s in your Orbit? They discuss building business relationships that assist you in the growth of your company.
Another great easy read — Building Business Relationships leadinginsight.com