‘Thanks’ means a lot

I couldn’t understand why these two men, who were such good friends, appeared to be at loggerheads and why there was such friction between them. They had been business partners together for some time and had always appeared to be great mates.

As happens in life, one got married and had then decided to move on from the business with a separate career. Initially it was not acrimonious and it was just a matter of  commercially separating each partner and allowing them to go their own way.

However, during my involvement, I observed what had become antagonism between the two. 

I suggested an informal ‘round table’ which was duly convened. The discussion had been going for hours yet nobody seemed to be getting anywhere. Nobody was giving, nobody was listening. At the least, both of them were being obstructive.

It wasn’t until my client decided to go for a bathroom break that there was enough space to be able to look at the actual problem.

During my client’s absence, I used the opportunity to ask a very simple question of the other partner. “What has gone wrong? What is it that you’re really after and what do you want?”

He looked at me and he said...

“Myles, I’ve spent five years of my life in this business. I don’t want anything for it except to be acknowledged.  I have built all the systems I have recorded them and done the manuals, I have established the business protocols to the stage where it now has substance and value. This is what I do, this is my skill and I have provided it without thought of reward.

Now, when my life is taking a different turn, I think it would be nice to have a mere acknowledgement. I don’t want the intellectual property, I am happy for my friend to have it but it is a little bit galling to have him say that he did it all and not recognise my efforts.”

When my client returned, I asked for five minutes alone and we went to a breakout room.  I explained the situation and we went back to the negotiating table with the suggestion that each party should own the intellectual property jointly, and that my client would sit and write a reference (even though it was not needed) addressed “to whom it may concern” referencing his former business partner and acknowledging his efforts and contribution in building the business to its present level.

 I suggested the letter be signed off with a simple ‘thank you’. The agreement was accepted and all parties were happy. To my knowledge, the exiting partner has never ever done anything with the intellectual property.

All he required was the acknowledgement. Yes, ‘thanks’ does mean a lot.

Other Stories