“While others may want to help us, they have to first consider what’s best for their businesses … and so should we.” – Misti Burmeister

Sheila was thrilled when a well-respected business leader in her community asked to partner up on a project that would tap into her expertise – and allow both of them to increase brand awareness for their businesses.

The project was a big success, so they decided to work together again. Only this time Sheila’s partner, Frank, asked to change things. While he still wanted her to do half the work, he insisted that his company get more visibility than hers on all marketing materials going forward.

Sheila was baffled and insulted by Frank’s selfishness. She thought he wanted to help with her company’s brand awareness, but now he was asking her to basically work as an unpaid employee, instead of an equal partner.  

That night, Sheila questioned her fears (like “What if he backs out?” and “Can I really do this on my own?”) and came to the conclusion that none of them had merit. Her track record for success with this type of project was solid – even impressive.

When she calmed down, she could clearly see that Frank’s request was not meant to insult her. He obviously knew the value of her contribution or he wouldn’t have partnered with her. He was simply looking out for his company’s best interests.

Yes, his request was selfish, and that’s just the nature of business. While others may want to help us, they have to first consider what’s best for their businessesand so should we. That’s why it’s important to be realistic about the role of selfishness in business and not take it personally.

Instead of getting tripped up by the emotional irritation, Sheila took the opportunity to get clear about her own value – which allowed her to make a decision based on trust in her own abilities and instincts, rather than fear.

The next morning, she sent Frank an e-mail saying that she would like to continue working together, but only as equal partners.

Here are a few questions to consider if you find yourself feeling taken advantage of in a business situation – whether it’s with your boss or your partner:

Why am I taking this personally?

What value do I bring?

Why is this project/work important to me?

Do I want to continue this partnership under these conditions? Why/why not?

In the end, Frank agreed to proceed as equal partners, but Sheila said her biggest triumph was realizing her value.  

Keeping it simple,

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations and Hidden Heroes