My natural tendency is get to yes, to close the deal, move forward, having all parties excited to forge ahead together knowing that we are in a win-win relationship.
Saying no is not easy for me. Some of my biggest mistakes, financial and otherwise, have resulted from not saying no. Of course, my saying “yes” has brought me a blessed life, with a beautiful wife (inside and out), seven incredible children, and many good friends.
The other day, after two months of roller coaster negotiations with a potential new partner, I finally had to say NO. It came to the point where I felt my comfort lines had been crossed, and even though I could still list the many reasons it made sense to say yes, I realized that in this case the answer was no.
In saying no I put myself through the wringer – why was I not able to navigate the relationship to a place where both sides would be comfortable? Recognizing my limitations is part of getting older, an ongoing maturation process (may it never stop, and may I continue to feel young).
So much of the business literature is about bringing the deal to fruition, closing the sale, getting to yes. Not enough attention is paid, I feel, to stopping unhealthy business deals from happening.
Much of modern life is reactive, from health care to business ethics. In relationships we also spend a lot more time on the failure than on the creation (just imagine if people like my wife, Rabbi Dr. Haviva Ner-David, who counsels couples contemplating life together, were just as busy and well-paid as divorce lawyers).
In choosing a business partner all the same pros and cons exist as when choosing a life partner – most important in both choices is can you imagine building a healthy, productive relationship together.
Too often money, external beauty, or convenience are swaying factors in taking on business partners and/or life partners. The decision I had to make last week had all of those factors – a potential business partner with deep pockets, committing significant sums, with business “beauty” (potential strategic value). And in saying yes, I would shield myself (for some time) from needing to possibly hear no from other investors – very convenient.
But when looking more deeply, I realized that while I could be friends with the person in question, and possibly do business together on specific spelled out deals, we did not have the ingredients for a healthy partnership.