Business Relationship Advice You Learned in Kindergarten

Just like any relationship, you don’t want to jump into a business relationship without thinking about it first. Here are some questions to guide your process as you consider whether to invest your time, energy, and money:

1) Does this person make me feel good about myself and my company?

This is not about flattery and compliments – this is to make sure that you don’t end up with a negative, pessimistic, or downright mean person as a business partner. You are the captain of your own ship and you should be respected as such. If the other person has questions about your business or processes, do they ask in a respectful manner? You should never feel like the other person is talking down to you or insulting you.

2) Does this person treat others with respect?

Just like being on a first date with someone, when you are getting to know a potential business partner you are observing (not judging) and evaluating them on their behavior. The way they treat other people is a big indicator of their personality. We all have casual habits when interacting with others, from customers to employees to telemarketers, so see what kind of habits they have when they are just being themselves. You don’t have to play detective or go to extreme lengths, just pay attention. Don’t forget to notice these little details because you might learn something valuable that contributes to your overall impression of the other person (or company).

3) Do they do what they say they’re going to do?

This is about integrity. If they promise something, do they do it? Or do you get non-committal answers and flaky follow-through? In any relationship, patterns are set early and they’re often indicative of what you can expect throughout the life of the relationship. So if you notice an early pattern of late shipments, poor communication, or any other detrimental business habit, make note of it because you can probably expect more of the same later on.

The final thing to check is your own gut. Science has recently proven that we all have a significant number of information-transmitting neurons in our digestive systems – in other words: gut feelings are real. This information is just like the information you receive from your brain, but it comes at you in a different way. Start noticing if your insides feel like they are agitated – that’s not a good sign. Sometimes we’re tempted to work with someone because we admire them or we feel like a connection with them would enhance our own reputation. But if your gut is telling you that something doesn’t feel right, then something isn’t right. No matter how much you love the idea of partnering up with someone else, if you get some negative answers when you ask yourself the above questions, you should probably think twice and then not do it.