Relationships are tough.
There’s the understatement, of this, or any, century.
When they’re good, they’re great.
When they’re bad, they’re intolerable.
Yet – we seem to overwhelmingly tolerate bad relationships, even when it’s blatantly obvious that the relationship is uneven, or when it is unhealthy for us, or when we could do much better, by just getting up, and walking away.
Why is that?
It’s because all real relationships are composed of contact, experience, and time.
When a single occurrence of an interaction between two people (or two companies) occurs, it is just a transaction (contact). However, what begins to build relationship between the two parties, is a series of such transactions (experience) over a prolonged period (time).
It’s the way friendship works. It’s the way love works. It’s the way family works.
What makes bad relationships difficult to walk away from, is the sunk cost we have in our experiences, and in the amount of time we devoted to cultivating the relationship.
Let’s bring the conversation back from the touchy-feely, and into the concrete, day-to-day world of vendor relationships.
Why do we put up with bad vendor relationships?
Because we need the vendor. Or we don’t know any better. Or we’re forced to use them by rule or dictate.
But I’m guessing, more likely than not, it’s because we have invested too much time, and emotional investment, in the relationship, to simply walk away.
Your vendors know this. They count on it.
A wise friend of mine once told me: need never made a good bargain.
If you want to have healthy vendor relationships, you have to be willing to walk away, when the relationship no longer provides more benefit than pain, or when better alternatives outweigh the overall good that the vendor relationship brings.
This is always easier to see from the outside, than it is if you have a personal investment (prestige, standing, ego) in a bad vendor relationship.
Life – and career – is too short to put up with poor service, neglect, and victimization.
You have to be willing to say: It’s not you. It’s us.
Go, and be you.