Abuse within professional relationships is a tricky subject to tackle and overcoming it is even deeper. The writing process behind these articles has been a bit of an emotional one. I’ve taken the time to reflect on varying degrees of workplace abuse that my team and I have experienced. Yet, we know that for all we’ve gone through, there are plenty of entrepreneurs and professionals out there who have experienced the same – or much worse.
We’ve covered a lot of ground over these past few posts.
We’re at the point where we can start wrapping things up. Today, we’re talking about overcoming it – both in terms of how you can build your business to avoid these sorts of situations in light of past experiences, and in how we can all work towards setting a standard and steering the small business community as a whole away from being quite so accepting of these sorts of situations.
Vet Clients So They Align With Your Values
When it comes to attracting clients, it’s good to have a target audience, but often people revert to demographics. That said, your target audience isn’t just a line chart on a computer screen. In reality, your target audience is made up of real people. These individuals have values, thoughts, passions, and beliefs – but we often don’t think along those lines in business relationships.
If your new client’s values do not align with your business’ values, friction is inevitable. It will only be a matter of time until that friction causes a spark that will eventually ignite and explode. You don’t necessarily need to be best friends with your entire client roster. However, you need to have certain core values in common so that you can share a mutual respect for one another. To do this, you need to be able to first take a step back. Take the time to do some soul-searching to identify just what your value set entails.
Overcoming It: Examples are Great
One particular value that I hold dear within my business is expertise. When I think of expertise, I think of the knowledge a person brings to the table, the experience they have built through their years on the job, and the education they have accumulated to build that expertise. My clients come to me for my expertise in marketing – not, say, for plumbing. I can’t imagine the havoc I would wreak on someone’s home if I had to start troubleshooting a backed-up sink!
In the past, I had one particular long-time client who constantly sought out my expertise. Then after receiving my input, they would almost always go and do the exact opposite. This really got under my skin throughout our whole working relationship, but I could never figure out precisely why. What did I care if the client went and did their own thing against my recommendation? Then it hit me. The client wasn’t respecting my expertise – the knowledge and experiences I had built up over years. This conflicted with one of my core values.
Don’t Ignore Your Inner Voice
Your gut is the compass of your business. Call it what you want – inner voice, intuition, instinct – it will NEVER lead you astray. It knows you better than anyone It is privy to your most innermost thoughts and wishes, and is always looking to protect and guide you.
Your gut is that little voice in your mind that whispers to you “Hey – heads up,” right before something big happens. It’s the red flag that goes up as you’re scanning an alarming email. It’s the tingle you get in your stomach after meeting someone at an event who seems a bit “off.” It’s the alarm bell in your head when you’re on the verge of hiring someone who is only “good enough.” It causes you to pause before hitting send on an email that might be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction and could use a proofread from cooler, calmer heads.
I guarantee that you’ve been in a situation that, in hindsight, sounded off those warning bells and made your inner voice speak up, that raised those the red flags and caused those tingles. These little incidents are there to protect you. They keep you alert and help you stay the course of your moral compass. Don’t ignore what, in reality, is one of your strongest superpowers as a businessperson – your gut.
A Few More Suggestions in Overcoming a Toxic Relationship
There were just one or two more small tidbits of advice we wanted to impart that might be the difference between forging healthy business alliances and falling into one that’s more destructive than constructive:
- Listen to those around you. Your team, colleagues, and inner circle of advisors are there for a reason. If they’re bringing up concerns, listen to them. Chances are, they’re speaking up because they have their own warning flags going up.
- Don’t pacify a situation. If alarm bells are going off – whether in your head or from external forces – there is a reason. Take time to reflect on the situation and think about why these warnings might be going off. Nine times out of ten, there’s a good reason for them.
- Don’t get caught in the weeds. Do regular, high-level check-ins with yourself to assess how a relationship is serving you. Don’t focus on the details here. Just take a second to ask yourself: what am I getting out of all this? A relationship should always be mutually beneficial. When it’s not, it’s time to assess whether it’s worthwhile putting in the effort to keep it going.
Overcoming It Isn’t the End
We’ve spent three fairly in-depth blogs going over the ins and outs of toxic workplace relationships. We hope that everything we’ve shared has helped our audience out in some small way. Even if that help is as simple as relating to a similar experience and being able to say, “I’ve been there, I’ve experienced that.”
There are varying degrees of workplace abuse, ranging from verbal and emotional all the way to the more extreme cases of physical and even sexual. The latter is far outside our expertise to advise on. We strongly encourage anyone dealing with these dangerous sorts of situations to contact the police.
Navigating and overcoming an abusive workplace relationship is at points frustrating, crushing, and emotionally draining. But there’s nothing like standing up for yourself, and successfully freeing yourself from the shackles of these oppressive obligations.
We strive to ensure that anyone we work with aligns with our values, our core beliefs, and our style of work. Take the time to explore our website and social profiles and cruise through some of the testimonials we’ve received. Get a feel for what we do, and if you feel like we’d jive well together, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us today and bring a spark to your next marketing push or social media endeavour!