Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dear Mrs Hatfield...

...this is Mrs McCoy calling. I have said this already in private, but since I know that we have many mutual friends, and also that those friends are aware of the recent situation between us, I wanted to say it in public (in front of all them) too. I don't know if you will read this, but I wanted to say it anyway. I'm sorry for the misunderstandings. I'm sorry for the frustrations. I never wanted our business contract to damage our friendship and I'm sorry that it did.

It's an awkward thing, doing business with friends. Everybody has misunderstandings sometimes, but when money gets involved somehow it becomes more personal...harder to brush off or to forgive. I've carried out dozens of business transactions with friends and rarely had a problem, but perhaps it is inevitable that problems should arise now and then.
I've always tried to be honest and forthcoming, and while that usually serves me well I guess sometimes we make the mistake of assuming that something was understood when it wasn't...or we think we've discussed something but the other person didn't realize what we meant by it.
In my business dealings I've always tried to be fair--more than fair even (I'm notoriously self-deprecating), and I confess I take it a little personally when someone feels that I've been unfair to them. In these cases there is usually fault with both parties, and while I try to take responsibility (and apologize) for my part of it, I have to be fair to myself too and realize that sometimes it's not all me, and I can't fix everything, nor can I please all of the people all of the time.
It's unfortunate (in my opinion) that a business deal gone sour can turn the people sour too, but sometimes it does. It is hard to do business with friends, no question, because of the multi-faceted (and therefore complicated) nature that develops in the relationship. It can be hard to be roommates with a friend; it can be hard to go into business with a friend; it can be problematic to co-sign on a loan with a friend or family member... and while there are any number of reasons as to why, I think that it comes back to one main thing: friendships are built on feelings, intentions, and effort; business is built on facts, results, and cold hard cash. In some cases they work together harmoniously, and in some cases they do not. I'm sorry to have had to be part of one of the latter, but am thankful for my many experiences with the former.

(As a note to those parties who are the aforementioned mutual friends...I know you know more about the specific situation, but it's really between the Hs and us, so I don't want to talk about it. Therefore I won't be publishing any comments with any specifics about the people or situations involved. I just wanted to make a public apology and spend a few minutes musing over the topic in general.)


Tim said...

I've had no problems being roommates with my best friends. In fact, it's much better than any of the alternatives, at least for our personality types.
But I refuse to do any serious business with family or friends. I don't loan money, or frankly do anything else along those lines. I'm definitely never going to invest money with people I know. There's too much potential for problems, mistakes, and hurt feelings. Not to mention the occasional scam...

Cynthia said...

There is no place I ever worked that was more stressful as an employee than the ONE time I was employed at a family-owned business where all the family attempted to work together.

I'm sorry for your struggles. I've had a big problem in this area before when I signed on to a non-profit foundation with 2 friends. Unfortunately, one of those 'friends' stole money from the foundation accounts and claimed 'misunderstanding' about some things. A different situation than you to be sure but beyond stressful. Ever have to help send a friend to jail? It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

And the purpose of sharing that story was to give some perspective for both 'sides'. I hope you all can work out whatever went amuck and be glad that it wasn't much, much worse.

Kelly said...

I'm sorry you are dealing with this. :( :( I have a policy now that I never do business with friends - I will *give* things to friends, but I don't do business deals with friends. I also never loan anything out - I just give it away [that way I'm never sad when they don't return it! LOL!]. I hope this blows over for you and that you are able to salvage the relationship.

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