How do we consistently find the right fit in clients, vendors, team members, and relationships for us? How do we tell the difference between a good relationship that is having a difficult time and a relationship that just isn’t working for us?
It comes down to fit.
We can all feel it when something doesn’t fit right, but many of us have a tendency to continue with relationships long after we have grown out of them. Sometimes they didn’t fit to begin with! Nonetheless, we avoid the potential conflict of releasing that relationship for as long as possible.
I’ve heard that we are each an average of the 10 people that we spend the most time with. Inevitably, the people around us rub off on us, and we tend to develop more traits in common with them over time. Ditching an old habit can be very challenging when the people around us are not also shifting their behavior in the same way.
With that in mind, who do you want to be? We need to choose our company carefully. Continuing to invest our time on relationships that we know aren’t working for us is equivalent to investing money into a stock that you know is going to go down. In both cases, we are never going to get a positive return on that investment.
People grow and change.
Our needs change. Our interests change. In a constantly changing landscape of relationships, it can be difficult to keep our bearings. Change can be scary! We form attachments, and we fear consequences. Is there a risk of upsetting someone? Is there a risk to reputation or to other relationships by association? These risks and attachments bury us in layers of “should.”
“Should” is a dirty, six-letter word. It causes us to spin our wheels in negativity. It causes us to compare ourselves to others, measuring our value and success by the actions of those around us. By hanging on to the relationships that no longer serve us, we fail to open up space for new relationships to form.
Let’s re-frame the discussion.
There is no blame in fit. The pair of jeans that looks great on your best friend will not fit your body in the same way. Would you blame yourself, your friend, or the jeans for that? Perhaps a few of us could use to lose a few pounds, but it’s time to accept things as they are. Not a fit is no one’s fault.
While it is easy to get lost in the emotions of specific situations where it is easy to assign blame, those situations are symptoms of a the deeper, blameless “not a fit” issue. Are you frustrated because a client continues to drop the ball? Does it hurt that a team member continues to use language that is offensive to your values? Are you baffled because a vendor seems perpetually aggravated by you? Some of these things may be able to be resolved with healthy communication. However, sometimes it runs deeper than that, and it may be time to walk away.
By changing the discussion from one of blame about specific actions to an overall focus on our common needs, we can turn saying goodbye to a relationship into a very positive and liberating act for both sides. The final act shifts our focus from the conflicting positions of the issues where we struggle, allowing us to end the relationship with intention on our common interests and needs.
Steve Fogelman of BusinessSuccessSolution.com says that we measure our growth by the people we say goodbye to. Growth, change, and goodbyes are an inevitable part of life. Our fear around them is natural, and overcoming that fear will facilitate a path to new, healthy relationships and lead to our next stage of growth opportunities.
For more great information on this topic, check out this article on “Weeding the Garden” from AccountingWeb.