How to End a Business Relationship Gracefully

It’s easy enough to find advice on firing an employee or managing your bad boss, but information on letting go of a professional relationship with a person who does not fall into these two categories is a little harder to come by.   Assuming you don’t both work in the same company and are therefore required to interact, here are some ideas on the best way to extricate yourself gracefully:

Meet in Person and Be Direct

This is easier said than done.  My fear of confrontation has led me to avoid toxic people rather than communicate my feelings, and sometimes, I’ll sit down with the person but will skirt the issue completely.  Although this is a common approach, it’s not a mature one.  The best case scenario is that you will sit down with the person in a restaurant where things can’t get too heated and he won’t be able to misunderstand your tone, and tell him succinctly that you feel you should both move on.  You can explain why, but don’t allow the person to manipulate you into agreeing to something that’s not in your best interest.

Prepare in Advance

Creating a script for your conversation can help you come across kind, assertive, and professional.  Write down your ideas for tying up loose ends so that you don’t forget them in the stress of the moment.

Be Reflective

Some people aren’t meant to be in our lives, but no relationship should be ended without some consideration of your own role in things.  Could your behavior have somehow led to this scenario and should you be accepting some responsibility? Also, have you found yourself in the situation of having to cut ties time and time again?  If so, you might want to examine how you conduct relationships so that you can improve your business outcomes.

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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