PP 097: Our Right to a Respectful Relationship
In both our personal and professional lives, we have a right to respectful relationships which make us feel heard and safe. In this episode, I share how I recently ended a business partnership when it failed to do so.
Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity. Before we get into today’s episode, I want you to know that some people, including you, may not see today’s episode as being entirely positive. However, I am hoping that you will visit my website at thekimsutton.com/pp097 and give your feedback about the content than I am about to discuss. As with every episode of Positive Productivity, I am hoping that the content discussed will help some of you, and as always, I love your feedback. So again, visit the thekimsutton.com/pp097, to give your feedback or maybe even to share similar stories that you have gone through.
Over the course of the past year, I was working on developing a new brand with a business partner who hadn’t yet turned into a business partner. What I mean by that is that we hadn’t yet signed a business partnership agreement. Now I know some of you out there already thinking, what the ha? Why haven’t you signed a partnership agreement, yet? Well, that’s a story for a whole nother day. Anyway, as we were working on the product, there were a few red flags that started going up. One of the red flags was that the partner, a male, was making comments which weren’t really appreciated. He would repeatedly suggest that I should send pictures of myself to him or that he was going to be my next husband and overtime it became very uncomfortable. I can’t even say over time, from the start it became very uncomfortable. From the beginning of the Positive Productivity podcast, I’ve let you know that I am happily married to my husband, Dave, and to say happily married is very honestly an understatement. Up until when I met Dave, I did not believe in soul mates or that I could be married to my best friend but he changed that. And if you are single or in an unhappy marriage, I truly hope that one day you can find a happy marriage, like we have. So, getting back to the story, I made it perfectly clear to this non-business partner business partner that the comments weren’t appreciated. I also asked that they stop. However, as time went on, they did not. Whether you are a male or a female, you have every right to be in any relationship, whether it be business or personal, that allows you to feel comfortable in all ways. And if you ask for actions like this to stop and they don’t, you have the power to cut the relationship off yourself. And this is what I ended up doing. Now, let me tell you, I hesitated greatly before I cut this relationship off because I have to be totally honest. There were benefits of the relationship in the way of networking with people who I really did want to meet someday that I did not want to give up. And for that reason, I let the relationship go on for months longer than I should have. However, they’re reached the point when I realized that this was not a good enough reason to stay in a relationship.
Friends, when I’m in a relationship with anybody, I want them to be as comfortable as possible. I want to speak to everybody with respect and I want them to walk away from the conversations we have feeling better about themselves and I hope this is the way that you look at your relationships too. No matter how close we are to somebody, there’s always room in conversation for pleases and thank yous and overall manners. Nothing should be expected out of a relationship and nothing should ever be demanded. Even when we’re speaking with our consultants or employees, we should have manners and please and thank you’s and there should be compliments. Yes, things will go wrong, but it is our responsibility as leaders to keep our integrity and move forward with dignity.
Now, when the relationship with this business partner was coming to an end, there were some not so friendly emails that were sent my way. It got to the point where I really didn’t want to see emails from him come into my inbox and why I hadn’t previously discussed anything that was going on with my husband. I realized I had to. Now, you may be wondering why I hadn’t previously discussed this with my husband. And I’ll just let you know, my husband had a severe back injury while he was in the service and he re-injured his back earlier this year. He’s been going through a lot trying to prepare himself for unnecessary surgery that’s coming up and I didn’t want to add that stress to his life. I thought that by sending an email to the business partner, several months ago, asking for this activity to stop, that that will take care of it. However, when it didn’t and I became more and more stressed because of the situation. I realized I couldn’t keep it from my husband any longer. Well, Dave was a little bit upset that I hadn’t shared it with him. At the same time, he was proud of me because he knew that I was trying to handle it on my own. A friend had suggested that I ask Dave to contact the business partner and request to cease and desist. But my response to that was that, pardon your ears, no, that I needed to pull up my big girl panties and take care of myself.
Whether it be in a personal relationship or in a professional relationship. You have the power to dictate how people treat you. Outside of this relationship, I also want to share one other example. About 10 years ago, I was working in as an interior designer and I had a two hour commute to and from work. I would get my son on the bus at about 6:30 every morning. We would take a bus to the train and then we would get on another bus before I dropped him off at daycare. And then I would need to take the third bus of the day back to my office.
I would get to the office by 8:30, work a full eight hours and then have to do the same thing the other way around. By the time we got home, it was often 8:00, but despite all that traveling, I always made sure to put my heart and soul into my job. I did the best that I could and I made sure I was there every day that I could possibly be. Now, I do want to note, that I was a consultant at the time, not a full time employee. So, I was not necessarily expected to work 40 hours a week, but in full disclosure I was working far more. Well, my boss at the time was very hot headed. The moment that anybody heard her car pull into the lot, all the radios got turned down and people became a lot quieter. It was almost like the scene from The Devil Wears Prada movie where the atmosphere of the office just completely changed. Now, there was one day and I don’t even remember what the topic was, that she called me into her office and just started screaming at me. This was not the first time and there had honestly been days, that on my short walk from the last bus to the office, that I would be in tears, dreading going into the office to work. But this day I had had enough. I let her know that I had been doing everything that I could. That I was commuting two hours each way to keep our clients happy. And then if she didn’t want me to work there anymore, I’d be glad to look for another job. The look on her face, that day, was priceless. The fact that I had put my foot down and stood up to her. I don’t know what went through her head but it worked out in my favor. I got a few raised eyebrows from my co-workers when I walked out of the office and back to my desk. But less than a month leader, that boss actually left the company. In a few days after she left, she called me to let me know that she was starting her own business and she wanted me to work with her for more than I was currently being paid. And you know what I said? No. Unfortunately the office that I was working in, ended up closing, but I chose to take the high road and to work with people who I enjoyed working with and treated me with respect. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me had I gone on with her. I don’t know if I would have made more money or gone further in my interior design career but I don’t really care to know. The fact that I got to go forward working with people that I enjoyed working with was worth far more than any quantity of money I could have been paid.
Going back to the business partner that I ended the relationship with. The same goes for him too. I would rather open my inbox knowing that I’m going to have emails that are full of respect and to have Skype conversations and phone conversations that aren’t compromising my marriage in any way. Now, I want to reiterate there was nothing going from my side back to him. I am perfectly happy in my marriage now and I would never stray outside of it. But the fact that those conversations are even coming into my ears or inbox is more than uncomfortable for me.
No matter where you’re working or who you’re working with or even if it’s in your marriage or in your family, you have a right to be happy, healthy, and safe in all relationships you are having. You have the right to walk away or to say no, and if you need any help coming up with the courage to make this happen, please, please, please visit my website at thekimsutton.com/pp097 and reach out to me. Also, I’d love to hear how you have possibly gotten out your relationship that wasn’t safe or comfortable for you and how you’ve gone on and made better for yourself. And if you know somebody who’s in a relationship, professional or personal, that needs help right now, please forward this episode to them. Until the next episode, I hope you have a positive and productive day.