Partners Making Exchanges to Improve Their Relationship

A crisis in Brian’s main subsidiary brought matters to a head. Brian needed Dennis’s support to deal with a very knotty problem. He had left word for Dennis at his hotel in Denmark to rush home for a key meeting, but Dennis had not showed up and had never even bothered to call. Brian was so upset that he was considering a proposal to end their long partnership via a buyout, but, in a last-ditch attempt to straighten out the relationship, Brian scheduled a weekend meeting with Dennis. They invited an old friend with considerable mediation skills to help them.

It was very difficult for Brian to express just what was bothering him. They went back a long way together, as friends as well as partners. With some prodding, Brian revealed that he felt abandoned by Dennis and finally managed to say how disappointed and angry he had been when Dennis hadn’t shown up or called. Dennis responded, astonished, “When I realized that I couldn’t possibly get back in time, I tried to call, and when I couldn’t reach you, I sent a message to my assistant, Marsha. I assumed she had told you.”

This set Brian off even more. Marsha was Dennis’s cousin, and Brian didn’t trust her at all. He had been upset when Dennis hired her, had complained for some time that she was a schemer who wanted to make trouble, and this was just the “proof” he needed. There must be some sinister reason that Dennis would try to use someone Brian so distrusted to send a message about missing a crucial meeting. Dennis, calm and detached as always, tried to explain again about the mechanics of different time zones, international phone calls, and sending the message.

*The names are disguised, but the events and emotions are as reported by the friend of Brian and Dennis who served as informal mediator.