I was a passive business partner. I couldn't say no. I avoided conflict, partners would take advantage of me, and in the end, I always felt like a victim.
Sometimes, I would find myself partnering with the opposite of me: aggressive partners. To me or others, they would act unhappy to make a point, deny their anger, use sarcasm a lot, plan revenge, deliberately hurt others, raise their voice, and act out their anger.
What's funny is that I would always end up becoming more passive-aggressive in the partnership, and my aggressive partner would also become more passive-aggressive. We'd both end up in the middle of the spectrum of being passive-aggressive.
Passive, aggressive, and everything in between is no way to act in a business partnership.
What was happening in my business partnerships was that I didn't set clear boundaries directly. So boundaries had a way of making themselves known more indirectly through passive, passive-aggressive, and aggressive behaviors.
Sadly, these are popular yet ineffective communication techniques that plague even the godliest business partnerships.
Passive and aggressive behaviors in business partnerships are just a poor attempt at communicating a boundary. Instead of directly stating how we’ve been hurt, we act out or avoid how we feel and just hope the other person figures out what they’ve done wrong. More often than not, this approach only frustrates the other business partner who is entirely clueless about the problem.
Passive and aggressive behaviors are prevalent in business partnerships since we often expect our partners to have some telepathic insight into our needs. But, the truth is, our partner can’t read our mind, and it’s unreasonable to expect it.
God would want us to communicate our needs directly. He'd like us to express our boundaries directly by asserting them verbally and then back them up with action.
God's way of dealing with passive and aggressive behaviors in our business partnerships is by setting healthy boundaries through clear communication and consistent action.
The Bible says,
“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” (2 Corinthians 3:12)
Paul is speaking of the boldness that comes from the hope we have in Christ. Being a Christ-centered Godpreneur leaves no room for passive or aggressive behavior because it's the opposite of being bold and standing firm in what one believes in.
To be assertive in your business partnership is to exude bold confidence in speech (verbal) and behavior (action). Too much assertiveness is aggressive behavior. Too little assertiveness is passive behavior. That´s why even well-meaning assertive Christians who stand boldly in their faith can find themselves in aggressive or passive business partnerships. Assertiveness is a positive quality that God teaches us to have through the bold faith we have in Christ.
In Ephesians 6:20, Paul, while in jail, asks his friends to pray that “I might speak boldly as I ought to speak.” Prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit will give you the confidence to show up in your business partnerships the way God needs you to. Some business partners are so deeply troubled by their past that they purposely make situations even more difficult. Therefore, like Paul in his chains, you need to ask for prayer that you might not give way to fear and intimidation.
God-like assertiveness is a way of communicating your needs openly without attacking your business partner for having done something wrong. And, when you assert your boundaries directly to your partner, you minimize the chance that they’ll be misunderstood.
God-honoring assertiveness in business partnerships comes from knowing that our Christ-likeness is of supreme value in the relationship. Our bold confidence is supplied by the Lord and empowers us to declare His truth. (2 Corinthians 16–18)
Assertiveness is a business partnership that is good when it is used for right. Proverbs 24:11 says, “Rescue those who are being led away to death.”
It requires assertiveness to rescue a business partner from going down a path you don't feel you or your business should be going down. We often shrink back from boldly confronting our business partners, but an assertive Godpreneur will risk his or her popularity to set a boundary and say what needs to be said. Assertiveness in business partnerships will, for example, ask for a better deal, respectfully show a partner where a financial error has been made, or supply the courage to address leadership issues.
The process of setting boundaries in business partnerships doesn’t end with communication, however. You have to back up what you say with consistent action, or else your partner won’t take your limits seriously.
For one, that means modeling the behavior you expect from your business partner. If you want your partner to be honest with you, for example, it’s not going to help your cause if you're not honest with him or her.
And, secondly, consistent action means respecting your business partner's boundaries as well. Healthy partnerships are built of mutuality. And, if you don’t honor your partner's boundaries, you don’t give them much reason to celebrate yours.
We can judge the level of our assertiveness in our partnerships by asking ourselves, “If Jesus were standing here, would I still do or say this?”
Godly assertiveness in business partnerships is declaring what needs to be said or doing what needs to be done to benefit our partner and the longevity of our business venture. It is not simply airing one’s grievances or complaining to our partners. It is not demanding rights or angrily telling our partners off. It is motivated by agape love, not by selfishness or a wish to dominate the partnership.
Assertiveness, God's way, is to show Christlikeness - it's being preoccupied with the interests of Christ in the partnership. Remember that it's about asserting God’s message, not your own. When that is our objective, assertiveness in business partnerships is a gift from God.