Hello everybody, welcome to episode 163 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Today we’ve got a wonderful question on tap for you about the mixing of personal and professional relationships. No, we’re not talking about workplace affairs, if that’s what you’re thinking. We don’t have that kind of drama going today (although we did have an episode on professional boundaries some time ago!). But we have a really good question about working for friends and how a subpar work performance could hinder the relationship. This is a good one especially for anyone who is considering going into business with friends, which is many people these days. Let’s take a listen…
QUESTION: “I attend a kind of AA group whose attendees have diverse issues. One of my favorite people in the group singles me out to offer me some work. Turns out she is a business owner. On one hand, she knows the worst about me and likes me anyway, on the other hand, she is months into sobriety and she is managing me long distance. I took a sales position, and my numbers are bad. She likes me but how quick is that going to wear thin in a business environment, ruin whatever friendship was just starting and cause me to look bad in a public way that horrifies me?
She is kinda doing me a favor, throwing work my way that somebody way more qualified and deserving could have had. I am just thrown off. But in many ways I can't complain. How do you handle being “indebted” to an almost-friend? She can afford to hire me, fire me; she has five more people she won't think about 3 min after tossing them.”
A Multitude of Conclusions
All right, good question. And congratulations on the new gig, for what it’s worth. Hopefully you’re there a while, in spite of your concerns.
When I read this question, however, I think that some of the stories you’re telling yourself are potentially more of a risk to your job security than your struggle with sales so far.
You’re jumping to a lot of conclusions right now, and to me they don’t even have very strong cases. Assuming your sales numbers are indeed bad, how did you go from bad sales numbers to a friendship being ruined?
And more so, how’d you jump from bad numbers to a friendship being ruined to horrifying public embarrassment?
Business with Friends: Responsibility and More
If you step away from this line of thinking and look at things on paper, what do you see? Imagine someone else was saying it. Is it not a logical fallacy?
There’s one, very thin piece of evidence supporting the transitions you’re making, and you’re not taking into account a whole slew of other entirely realistic factors; most of which happen to be positive, I might add.
Does a bad work performance always tarnish the personal relationship between boss and employee, let alone if they’re friends outside of work? Of course not.
Does an ended friendship always result in one of the people involved publicly humiliating the other? Of course not.
To me, these stories seem very rooted in both a lack of confidence in yourself and a vision of your friend/boss being on this corporate pedestal, void of any emotion.
This image of her makes sense as she seems to have surprised you with how much power she has, but with great power comes great responsibility.
If she’s a good business owner and someone who is taking the hard steps she needs to take to heal personally, then my gut tells me she doesn’t make decisions lightly, especially important ones.
And even if she did, it’s on her to take responsibility for them.
What If It Doesn't Work Out?
What I’m saying is that she did not hire you as a means of putting you under the microscope just to see you squirm.
It’s easy for you to feel that this is more about you, but if you put yourself in her shoes, she has a business to run. She doesn’t make hiring decisions for the fun or torture of it.
She’s calculative, and hired you on a hunch, not because you had some shining sales record in past jobs (unless you lied to her about your qualifications). She took a chance on you knowing that there was risk involved.
You don’t owe her a spotless performance. All you owe her is a good, hearty effort.
If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, it’s on her to acknowledge that she rolled the dice on someone who is kind, but also inexperienced.
No reason for a friendship to be ruined over this.
Consider How You Met
That aside, consider the space you met in. You met in a place that breeds close connections; a place where everyone meets to share their deepest troubles, support one another and overcome together.
Kindness and understanding towards oneself and others is the common goal.
Though this is me doing my own speculating, I’d be hard pressed to think that this woman would out you in such a place, especially if this place and what it stands for is the foundation of your entire relationship to begin with.
No reason for her to make you look bad in such a place.
Business with Friends: Conclusion
Even if I’m wrong about either of these and all your fears have a lot potential to come true, the best way to stop this from happening and stop the bad storytelling is raise these concerns with her as friends. There’s no shame in expressing the concerns to her that you’ve expressed to me.
Like I said, assuming you two had a discussion about your limited experience and she approached you for this job anyway, the expectations couldn’t have been super high. You should’ve both known that you’d need a longer transition period than others on her team with more sales experience.
You two are used to being vulnerable around one another, it’s your M.O, so continue to do that. It shouldn’t have to halt just because there’s a new work relationship. You can approach her with your worries in a way that expresses you wanting to do your best work for her rather than you saying you’re forever doomed to be an inept saleswoman.
Should you approach her with that confidence as well as honesty, the relationship is highly likely to remain in tact even if one or both of you decides it’s not best to work together anymore.
Thank you very much to the woman who sent this question in. I hope this episode helped you to dispel some of your fears and not shy away from having an honest communication with her, just as you two have been doing since the beginning of your relationship.
Perhaps the relief of such a talk would even increase your work performance as you’d be less stressed? We can hope.
For everyone out there, if you’ve got a question you’d like answered on the show as we did today and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, please don’t hesitate to send it on in. You can email us your question at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Have a wonderful rest of your day everyone, take care of yourselves, and be sure to stop in for the next one. I’ll see you there.