How to repair damaged business relationships — suck it up for success, because time usually heals all

Most everyone has been a party to a failed relationship, business or otherwise. It’s probably mostly about being human and succumbing to hubris, being obstinate or having unrealistic expectations.

When this occurs over time, the gap in the relationship widens, primarily due to intentional or passive neglect. As months turn into years, an invisible long-term breach sets in and the real reasons that caused the riff fade from our consciousness.

Then one day something out of the blue triggers positive thoughts about the supposed offender and you begin to ponder what really went wrong. Maybe an ill-timed comment, an initial misinterpretation or an equally trivial trigger sparked the chasm that took on a life of its own, proliferating seemingly to a point of no return.

If you can’t remember the real “story behind the story” of why you stopped doing business with someone, other than possibly because he or she threatened your firstborn or worse, perhaps it’s time to reconnect. It could prove to be profitable and, perhaps even more important, personally satisfying.

Get started

In the recesses of your psyche, do a sanity check to ensure you’ve selected a suitable candidate for reconciliation, not someone who might still be having nightmares about you.

Next, make a list of the gratifying memories you had together before the “black time.” Now you’re ready to send a note to the target of your reunion. Start by boldly stating, “Out of the blue, Mr. or Ms. X, you came to mind along with how much I previously enjoyed our relationship.” Add that you were suddenly overwhelmed with the good of it all and how personally fulfilling doing business with him or her was to you.

From the top of your list cite the most positive memory both of you likely savored. Disarm the recipient by stating, in reflection, you’re sorry for what transpired.

Take the blame

Depending how much you have matured since the dark event, how comfortable you are today in your own skin and if you’re ready to suck it up, add the comment that you’re putting the blame on yourself for what transpired. Even if you weren’t the guilty party, this tone will likely crumble any remaining barriers to your efforts to reunite.

The clincher to bridge the existing gap is either to suggest you get reacquainted now or, if you prefer to be a bit more subtle, simply to state, “This communication is long overdue, and I wish you the very best.”

Taking the initiative requires the realization that you don’t have to win every battle to win the war. Many times this type of unabashed mea culpa can lead to a renewed and sustained relationship that makes the catalysis for the original issue something that both sides can laugh about after the healing process concludes.

Remember, “Time heals all wounds.” You just have to be an opportunist to take advantage of this ageless phenomenon.