Re: salvaging damaged business relationships

Subject: Re: salvaging damaged business relationships
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 19:29:23 -0800 (PST)

"Sue Kirk" wrote...>

> Hi Everyone
> Ok I finished my first writing project and was really happy with the
> product. But I had a lot of trouble with the manager, he breached the
> contract twice each time with the due payment and the last payment I
> didnt think I was going to get. (a short version of how bad the whole
> project really was) In the end I went to his superior and I collected my
> cheque the next day.

Why didn't he pay you? You said he breached the contract. Did he have a
reason? Generally people don't just breech contracts for fun. They have
reasons. Do you know his reasons?

You need to know why people are angry or upset with your work. A customer
relationship hinges on communication. Most failed relationships are due to
miscommunication on somebody's part.

> I notice there was some discussion on the list, differing opinions on
how to
> approach a situation when it looks like you are not going to get paid.
> noticed a lot of people were reluctant to assert their rights legally
and I
> think this is wrong. I understand that people are scared to be
> and I can understand that this probably does happen, but I have to
> how a Company that is obviously not operating ethically can have such
> credibility? Sometimes I think we need Unions again!! (power its always
> shifting)

Its a matter of energy and expense. If you jump right into a lawsuit,
you're likely to wind up in a quagmire of legal wrangling. You also stand
a chance of losing, which could make you liable for the customer legal
fees - DOH!

Lawsuits have a polarizing effect on people. It doesn't matter how
diligently you followed every rule. If you sue somebody, or even threaten
to sue them, they will immediately see you as an enemy and begin
fortifying themselves from attack. Furthermore, you might earn a
reputation as a "troublesome" person.

A lawsuit should always be an absolutely last resort after repeated
attempts to negotiate a settlement with the customer have failed. You are
not just "entitled" to money because you show up for a contract. Most
contracts do require work that meets the satisfaction of the customer. And
as I have told the TECHWR-L ganf many times (to the ire of some) you can't
focus exclusively on pleasing the reader. Remember who signs the check -
its not the reader, its that manager.

And yes in an ideal world the manager would have the foresight to realize
that "ultimately the reader signs the check." But we don't live in an
ideal world. He who has the money, makes the rules. That's life.

> Anyway back to the issue. When I spoke to this other manager he was
> professional and he certainly knew his stuff as far as management. He
> for my information the guy I had been working with was taking over
> Department and he gave me the name of the woman who was taking over from
> him. (aaahhh a woman....sorry guys lol)

Maybe it was a man who only LOOKS like a woman? Ever consider that?

> What I need to know is what is the best way for me to approach her,
> in mind that she is new to the Company and hasn't had a chance to see
> this guy operates and in fact might never see. Theres a good chance hes
> said we had a lot of trouble with this writer bla bla bla. How do I
> this relationship. The manager was adamant that he would be happy for
me to
> continue working with the Company, but I dont know if he was just using
> as a way to rehabilitate his image.

Call her and talk to her. You might be surprised she knows nothing about
the problems with the other guy. Just make sure that you don't volunteer
any information to the new manager. Don't even bring up the bad blood
between you and the previous person. Focus on offering your services to
the new manager.

However, you should be prepared to respond to the reasons why you had
problems with the previous guy. You have to put yourself in his shoes and
understand his reasons. You can't just assume you're in the right. For all
you know, it was not that big of a deal and a simple (and humble) "I am
sorry, I won't let that happen again" will restore your relationship. Then
again, they might have a very legitimate complaint, and you need to find a
way to address those complaints with positive, solution-oriented language.
Blame and "he doesn't get it" type of arguments will only polarize them
even more.

But understand you might not be able to salvage the relationship. That guy
has probably contaminated his replacement and sterilizing her and getting
her to see your point of view may be impossible.

To put it another way, the more you pick the scab, the more it hurts.

> I was thinking that I would perhaps send her a brief email ask her about
> work and try to organise a meeting? My biggest weakness is marketing/
> selling myself so any help would be appreciated.

Call her and invite her to lunch. You're on the right track. But hedge
your bets and look for work elsewhere.

Andrew Plato

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