5 tips for building effective relationships with challenging partners

5 tips for building effective relationships with challenging partners

At some point we all have to engage with partners both internally and externally who are challenging to work with. This is often a difficult situation requiring determination and diplomacy. You need to be clear in your own mind why the relationship is important, what the “win win” is. In the case of a channel relationship ask yourself why you need such a reluctant partner. In general, when confronted with someone who is problematic to work with, whether it be a superior, a peer, a subordinate, a client or an external business partner, what can you do to help forge successful relationships and build effective alliances? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Make the other party feel valued

When confronted with challenging relationships make the other party feel valued and included by keeping them informed. Acknowledge and recognize their contributions. Be prepared to listen and encourage a healthy exchange of views to develop an open robust relationship, which allows room for measured criticism. Remember that it is possible to make an ally of an imperfect partner without having to sacrifice your own principles and objectives.

2. Stay firm on critical issues

In all relationships it is important to stay firm on critical issues and remained leveraged until you have established a firm relationship. Be positive and honest delivering bad news quickly and staying in close communication. Work hard to maintain a positive attitude even when one might be hard to come by!

3. Be accessible and approachable 

Your accessibility and sincere and positive approach is critical. Make people feel that you value their opinion. Be receptive, ask questions and most importantly listen. Recognize that your business partner has their own unique contribution to make, you alone don’t have all the answers. Building an effective partner relationship involves a dialogue, not a monologue.


4. Be sincere

Nothing helps to develop a relationship more than sincere gestures, supporting others at a difficult meeting or accompanying them to a special event. Understand that partners have a natural inclination to be kept in the loop and be recognized for their efforts. If you work hard to develop an open relationship you allow yourself room for criticism. This will help you achieve the ‘win win’.

5. Be empathetic, try to relate to others

Successful relationships are forged if you know how to get the best out of people by relating to them both individually and collectively. For some of us this comes naturally; for others, it’s more of an acquired skill. Fortunately, the more you do it, the more comfortable you become doing it.

In summary, know who you want to work with and why. Set the tone and example, show your willingness to accompany them on sales calls, answer the customer complaints, attend partnership meetings yourself! Stay in sync with these challenging people whether they be customers, employees or channel partners. What have your experiences been and what suggestions do you have?

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