In business, enemies are expensive.
I'm not talking about competition here. I'm talking about enemies. Competition is actually good for you for a number of reasons including:
- Competition indicates a market exists. Lots of folks think "No one else is in this market - I'll own it!" Unless your idea / service / product is truly innovative, there's a good reason for the lack of competition: there's no money in it. Always ask yourself "Am I the first person to think of this?"
- Competition keeps you on your toes by pushing you to excellence. If you don't satisfy, someone else will. That's powerful motivation.
An obvious enemy-related expense is lost business. If you tick someone off they will not likely use your service or product again.
But there are hidden costs as well. For instance, bad news travels much faster and farther than good news. Don't take my word for it - check out your local evening news. Very little good news is reported. Do one person / company wrong in a single business transaction, and it will follow the remainder of your career.
This is why I don't get the ethics scandals. Maybe I'm missing something but the risks of these schemes seem to far outweigh the rewards. Each time I hear of a new blatant, intentional ethical violation I wonder aloud "What were they thinking?"
There's also collateral damage to business enemies and sometimes it can turn around and bite the offended - again. How? Whenever you badmouth someone who treated you wrong, you are gambling that the person you're talking about will never do anything positive and meaningful for the person you are talking to - forever. Forever is a long time. Things change, stuff happens. Are you willing to take that risk?
Also, when you badmouth you're demonstrating you're the type of person who will talk trash about someone with whom you disagree. Odds are someone else will disagree with you in the future. Are potential clients willing to take the chance you will be happy enough with the outcome of your dealings to not impugn their reputation? Put another way: Is there anyone else they can hire who won't talk smack about them should things come out less than equitable for all parties?
It comes down to professionalism.
Everyone looks like a professional when the gig goes your way, you get plenty of recognition, paid more and/or earlier than anticipated or agreed upon. It's not hard to shake hands, pat folks on the back, give credit to those who helped, and genuinely thank those involved for the opportunity... when all goes well.
When things fly apart mid-project, when threats begin, when you start ignoring your email and silencing your cell phone without answering; when your subconscience sounds like a black-and-white World War II submarine naval movie in a scene where the sub is about to dive and is sounding the klaxon... that's the darkness where the brightest lights shine the most.
There's another word for these dim times: opportunity.
You have an opporunity to turn the project around. I am a firm believer that all projects-in-peril can be turned around. It is a sheer matter of will to do so.
The momentum gained by a project climbing out of the Pit of Despair can propel a business relationship to a completely new level, and, if you engineer such a turnaround, you will demonstrate your professionalism beyond dispute.
I know, I've seen it happen.
In conclusion, there are hidden costs to making enemies in business, and there is hidden profit in putting potential enemies in the friend column.
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