Stressed out and stretched thin. That’s today’s business theme. All kinds of businesses are making tough choices. Customers are cutting back. Some are on the brink of disaster, while others are perfectly fine but act like they are on the verge of collapse. All of this economic uncertainty is creating havoc with many long-standing business relationships.

I’ve noticed lately that otherwise good people are doing some really unreasonable things. For example, a client called me recently to tell me that the contract was off, two weeks after they awarded me the business. I thought, “what the heck is going on here! I know times are tough, but you have got to be kidding me.” I wanted to cut them a break, but I couldn’t sacrifice my own bottom-line either.

It took two very different conversations to arrive at a deal. At the end of one conversation, I felt like I’d been poked in the eye with a stick. At the end of the other, I had a deal. There were three critical differences in the conversations that I had.

Conversation #1

I received a call from the client telling me that they were very sorry, but they were rescinding the contract. I was torn. I knew that times are tough in the training industry, but I had a contract. I asked the woman how they arrived at the decision to rescind my contract while leaving others in place. She made up a story and blamed me!

She told me that I didn’t appear eager enough for the work. My competitor was more eager, so they were keeping his contract in place while cutting mine. Because this was the first time I had ever talked to her, I was outraged. I learned later that there was no objective reason at all. She thought I would just accept it as a done deal, so she lied and blamed me to cover for her own embarrassment.

I called my main contact and asked that he call me back. I was not about to roll over and accept this decision as a done deal. I also know that honey attracts while vinegar does not. I left a quick voicemail asking Sam to call me. My tone was even and my intention was to talk it over. I know times are tough for everyone.