Breaking Up is Hard to Do … Even at Work

By: Julie Holunga

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“You talk WAY too much.”

That was what my brother told me as I was boarding the train to go back to college after Thanksgiving break. Sibling rivalry at its best.

I have been told this a few more times since then. Mostly at concerts. Apparently, people want to listen to the main attraction play, not me. Fair enough.

(In my defense, I am an external processor. I speak to think. The first thing out of my mouth is a rough draft of my thoughts. Be patient, I’ll get to where I’m going.)

Bottom line, I like people. I am curious, and like talking — AND listening — to people. I want to understand what makes people tick. Why they make the decisions they do. Why did they go into a particular career, live in their city, get into their childhood primary sport, choose the college they attended?

[Related: Rock How You Recognize Colleagues in Your Workplace]

So, what’s the problem?

I invest in the people I work with, in the relationship, and am blinded when it needs to come to completion. This rarely happens with my clients, but rather with experts I hire to help me with my business and life.

I get to know the people I work with, and I feel invested in them. I don’t want to end the relationship. Which, for the most part, is a good thing. When a client reaches her goals, and we are ready to cut the apron strings, I wave goodbye with pride. And we stay in touch.

And yet, professionally, I have a tough time cutting the strings. This has happened a few times over the last few years — with a running coach, an acupuncturist (who I adored!), a videographer, and many other consultants. I enjoy working with them and getting to know them.

I lose sight of when the relationship needs to come to an end. This should be happening when I’ve gotten what I needed from them, but I let it go on too long. Lessons learned:

Know when to stop.

I need to learn from those I work with. This comes in many forms — content, strategies, insights, etc. Once I’ve stopped learning, the work is complete.

[Related: I Got Unstuck In My Career After Hitting Rock Bottom]

Be clear up front.

I sign up for services with an end in mind. I am not a never-ending client.

Set goals.

Be specific what I am looking to achieve and prioritize. Once I have reached my goals, the relationship — in the form it originally began — is complete.

Don’t feel bad.

If I am clear with the above right from the start, then it will be easier to complete the service, and “break up.” Simply liking someone as a person is not reason enough to continue paying for something I don’t need anymore.

Has this happened to you? You stay in a professional service relationship longer than you need? I had to change my mindset from a “break-up” to a “project complete.” This makes the experience more positive and easier to grasp and move on.

[Related: Three Proven Ways to Create Your Own Serendipity]

Julie Holunga is an executive business coach who trains and develops small-medium size business leaders, attorneys, and CPAs to bring their careers to the next level.

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