Around Valentine’s Day, there’s a lot of talk about love, romance and getting together. My husband and I will celebrate our 20-year anniversary on March 5, and Deb Gabor and I have been in business together for longer than she was married, so I’m cool with love and commitment. However, my favorite love song is “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and I have a natural inclination towards being contrary, so I’m going to write about breaking up. If your love (or your client or your job) is tearing you apart, you should probably consider breaking up.

 

Here at Sol, where we often work with clients, vendors, and team members over a long period of time, we put a lot of effort into creating mutually satisfying and beneficial working relationships. We’ve worked with several key clients over the course of many jobs and several companies. Occasionally, however, there is a situation that calls for us to reevaluate a relationship, and either change the dynamic or break things off.

Here are a few tips to recognizing when a good relationship has lost its sparkle or just never was that good to begin with, and how to recognize the signs of a potentially bad relationship before you’re in too deep.

 

Signs you should consider breaking up with your vendor:

  • They treat your business like it’s yours, and not theirs
  • They fail to anticipate your needs
  • They don’t understand your business
  • They don’t take responsibility
  • They make you do all the work
  • They don’t share your values
  • They are completely inflexible about processes
  • They never go above and beyond to ensure success

 

Signs your vendor should consider breaking up with you (or at least telling you “we need to talk”):

  • You consistently pay late
  • You expect more than you pay for
  • You’re too needy
  • You’re a bully
  • You book work and then cancel it on a regular basis
  • You don’t provide direction, feedback or necessary access, or otherwise fulfill your end of the bargain

 

And finally, here are a few things you should consider warning signs at the beginning of a relationship:

  • Negotiations about the work, terms, processes and staffing take longer than the actual work
  • Being together makes you feel bad
  • When working together, you do or say things that go against your values or better judgment

 

Just as in personal romantic relationships, if you and your client or your boss don’t want the same things out of the relationship, there’s bound to be unhappiness. Business relationships shouldn’t be where you look for personal fulfillment and love, but, as in a love relationship, they should be built on mutual respect and appreciation.

Open and honest communication is always important, and most relationships deserve a chance to work things out.