This time it’s personal: how your business knowledge can save your relationship

January 26, 2015
Why is it that so often people who are extremely successful in the business world tend to struggle in the social aspects of their lives? Some of the biggest and best entrepreneurs in the world have shown that success in business doesn't necessarily mean you'll be lucky in love. Take oil tycoon and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, for example. Both men have been divorced twice. Then there's Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who separated from his wife, fellow entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki, in August 2013. We could go on...

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All these people have clearly got a lot of talent and are equipped with plenty of valuable business skills, otherwise they wouldn't have got to their lofty financial positions, so why is it that they couldn't make their relationships work? [caption id="attachment_13753" align="alignnone" width="781"]Elon Musk Elon Musk has been divorced twice since 2010.[/caption] Of course, it's a fact of life that not all marriages or relationships are going to be a success, but the stresses and strains put on busy entrepreneurs have to be a big contributing factor to their relationships breaking down with more regularity than people working less-stressful jobs. Even though studies on the subject are scarce, it's widely acknowledged that those in high-powered positions do often have difficultly maintaining their personal life. And when work is coming in from all angles and the company's very existence depends entirely on one person, it's no wonder that they're preoccupied with business. Often they can't even see that there's a problem in their relationship, let alone spare to time to put it right. This may seem like a pretty bleak outlook, but it certainly needn't be this way. You don't have to chose between your business and your relationship - you can have both. A common mistake that some professionals make is to think that business is completely separate to every other facet of life. While generally mixing business with pleasure and dating around the office isn't the best idea (although there are always going to be a few exceptions), that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of transferrable skills that are important for both your professional and your personal life. [caption id="attachment_13754" align="alignnone" width="781"]sergey brin Google co-founder Sergey Brin separated from his wife, Anne Wojcicki, in August, 2013.[/caption] In fact, some of the most common skills, which any successful entrepreneur is bound to have, can also be used to get your relationship back on track. Obviously, speaking to your partner or children in the same way as you'd deal with a colleague or business associate is never going to go down well, but, used in the right way, these basic business skills can make your personal life run a hell of a lot smoother: Communication Communication is a skill at the cornerstone of success for any entrepreneur. The ability to clearly and effectively tell people your views, as well as listen and take onboard other people's input, is absolutely vital. And it's exactly the same in a relationship. The only difference being, of course, a very different tone to the one you'd use at work is required. Negotiating With the fine margins between success and failure, all top businesspeople have to be proficient in negotiation. While ultimately a good negotiator will always get the best of the deal, they have to be willing to make allowances for the other party in order to leave both sides feeling good about the conversation. It may sound rather cold and calculated, but sometimes negotiation is necessary in relationships too - for example, agreeing to stay in one night as long as going out the next won't be a problem. It's always better to do the negotiation now, rather than in the divorce settlement, as a certain Mr Abramovich would attest to. [caption id="attachment_13755" align="alignnone" width="781"]Roman and Irina Abramovich Roman Abramovich's 2007 divorce to his wife Irina cost him a reported $300 million.[/caption] Decision making People at the top have to be adept at making the right decisions based on all the risk, rewards and possible outcomes. And sometimes you get in a situation at home when you have to do the same. Is missing that dinner going to anger your partner so much that it puts your relationship under threat? Or if you explain that you were stuck at work and come home with a bunch of flowers, will that be enough to get you off the hook? Time management The obvious application of time management to your personal life, is the more time wasted in the office, the less time you'll have to be at home. However, for most people, their dairy is completely full, and spending any less time working is simply not an option, so that places and even greater emphasis on spending your spare time with your partner wisely. It's a cliché, but "quality time" really is important. Knowing when to quit In business, a good entrepreneur will know if the company has run its course and, no matter what anybody does, simply can't be saved. And it's exactly the same with a relationship. A healthy one needs to have both parties pulling in the same direction and helping each other towards the same goals, and while ever that's still a possibility, it's worth working at. However, if that's not happening over the long term, maybe it's not the right relationship for either person to be in.