4 Signs You and Your Business Partner Should See a Couple’s Therapist

  • November 22, 2017
  • by:Serhat Pala

This article originally appeared on Inc.

Even the best relationships go through hard times. Whether you are friends, siblings, a couple, or business partners, you’re bound to hit a few bumps in the road.

Despite those inevitable bumps, it can be worth it to start a business with a partner. Research conducted by the Kauffman Foundation suggests businesses started by teams can attract 30 percent more investment than ones started by a solo entrepreneur. In addition, the research suggests that businesses started by a team can increase their customer base quicker, which improves their chances of survival.

But, when the going gets tough, business partnerships, like all relationships, can become strained and even break down entirely, putting the business at risk and–more importantly– putting the relationship at risk.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to seek outside help–and sometimes the best help for business partners can come from a source they didn’t expect: Couples therapy.

If you are in business with a partner, essentially you are raising a child (your business) together and that makes you a family. Before your business family falls apart, consider heading to a therapist’s couch.

Here are four signs you and your business partner may need to have a few sessions with a couples therapist.

1. The details have overshadowed the vision

You and your partner connected with each other for a reason. It was likely that you both brought something to the table that the other lacked and you believed that together you’d be stronger and be able to build a better business than either one of you would be able to build alone. And even though you both brought different skill sets to the table, the one thing you both shared was the vision that drives the business.

If decisions about working hours, salaries, purchases or which services to use are constantly turning into arguments, it might be time to see a therapist. A few disagreements here and there are to be expected, but if every discussion turns into a fight, that’s a sign the relationship is breaking beyond repair.

2. You use “we” instead of “I” too much

This one seems a little counterintuitive. If you’re a team, you should use “we” rather than “I,” right? The answer is yes and no. You should use “we” when you are talking about the partnership or the company to others and especially to your employees so that you’re fostering that sense of team that is crucial to all businesses.

When it’s just you and your partner talking about the business, however, saying: “We must do X” or “We should not do Y,” makes it seem like you’re trying to talk for the other person. In these cases, saying: “I believe we should do X” and “I think doing Y would be bad for us,” is more helpful because you are showing that you’re only speaking for yourself and what you believe rather than trying to speak for both of you.

3. You’re not actually listening to each other

Not being listened to is aggravating for anyone. Even if you’re not talking, you may not actually be listening to a person when you’re conversing with them. If you’re already planning what to say to the other person while they’re talking, you’re not really hearing them. And, obviously, if you’re interrupting them, you’re not hearing them either.

It’s a good exercise to sit and listen to what your partner has to say without interruption and then repeat it back to them to make sure you understood it all. If you can’t do this, then you should consider getting some outside help.

4. You can’t be around the other person without talking business

Unlike a roommate or a band member, you can’t take out an ad for a business partner and just hope you become friends later. You only go into business with friends or other people you already know and trust. That means you had a relationship built on something else before the business existed.

If you can’t go out for a drink or hang out without talking about the business (like, not even for a second), that means the business has overshadowed the relationship. You should be able to hang out as the friends you started out as and put the business aside for at least a few hours and just enjoy each other’s company. If you can’t, that’s not a good sign.

Therapy for fledgling business partnerships can be incredibly helpful for saving businesses and relationships on the brink of collapse. If it’s time to book a session on the couch, do it. Your partnership could depend on it.

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