Route 66 - The Journey Toward Success
Clean The Slate
There will be times in your career when you are going to get off on the wrong foot with someone in your network. It just happens. No matter how good our intentions, we will encounter people who we do not like, or vice versa. Many who do not embrace the power of business relationships have no problem with harboring ill feelings toward others, but those who strive for networking success are internally challenged when they have a negatively charged relationship.
Sometimes it is easy when you have a large circle of friends and professional contacts to place the blame on the other person. Obviously the issue cannot be you, as there are many examples of folks who adore you....so the problem must rest with the other person. I disagree, as to have a positive relationship takes the effort of both people. Besides, taking responsibility to fix a bad connection is not the same as admitting guilt. Instead it shows you really care about your networking and are willing to give folks a second chance.
Here is what happened to me a few years ago:
I was on the board of directors for a local business/technology group. Just before my term as president began it came to my attention that one key board member did not support my administration. Instead, she made it well known that she did not think I should be in the leadership role. I decided to meet her for coffee to get to the bottom of the problem. We sat down at a local Starbucks and I point blank told her that I had the feeling that she did not really like me that much. She agreed. We had a honest discussion about why she believed I not one who would follow through on my efforts, and therefore should not be president of the organization. While I disagreed with the examples she stated, I knew better than to think I could change her mind. I stated my side of the situation, but with respect to her point of view.
We agreed to disagree, and then I asked her for a "clean slate". I told her that I could not change the past, but that I believed that we could work well together in the future, and together help the organization achieve its goals for the year. She agreed.
I am not sure that I did everything correct in my year as president, but the organization continued to grow and thrive. At the end of my term this woman pulled me aside and said that she thought I had done a good job, and she was happy that we had started fresh.
She and I never became "best friends forever" (bbf's), but we did work well together on the projects at hand. And we both learned a good lesson about working together with people whom are not on your "A-List". Ever since this time I have tried to give people a clean slate when I can. I take a moment to let them know where I was disappointed in the past, but also own the fact that I cannot really know their situation, and that I do not need an explanation or apology, but instead I would just like to start over.
Sure, there are some people who are not capable of starting over (these folks are always focused on the negative) and sometimes people will let you down again, that is just life. At least you know you tried to remedy the problem. If you make the effort, then it is easier to live with the sour relationship.
Take a chance on others and give them a second chance.
Have A Great Day.