Janice (not her real name) was a co-founder in a new business. She reached out to Alida upset that her business partner had been missing deadlines and doing work that wasn’t up to snuff. Janice was frustrated and wondering if she had made the wrong decision going into partnership with this person.

Janice had been direct and clear in her expectations, but her partner wasn’t living up to them. Alida worked with Janice to identify what might be going on below the surface. Was there an underlying pattern that might be contributing to the issue?

What they discovered was that Janice often went into a “tell” mode (rather than “partner” mode) when working with her partner. In “tell” mode, Janice would give orders about what needed to be done and when, without making room for her partner to weigh in. This seemed to trigger an “appease” mode in her partner, in which the partner would agree to work even when she didn’t have the time or energy to follow through. Then the work wouldn’t get done and both partners were disappointed.

By identifying this pattern, Janice was able to make a shift. Alida worked with her to identify signals — early warning signs — that she could watch for to know when the “tell and appease” pattern was in play. They also identified (and practiced) more collaborative alternatives to the “tell” mode that Janice could use with her partner when it came to setting assignments and deadlines. In that way, Janice was able to set her partner up for success, and tap into her wisdom and experience. A year later they were still in business together, having fun and growing.

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