A way to honor your partners is to give them feedback.
I remember the first time I had to say no to a potential business partner. It took me half of my day to make the email, I even consulted with my boss and our COO about what to say. After quite a number of rejections, now I get it.
You have to be gracious and forward at the same time. It starts with a show of appreciation. But you can’t keep giving flowery words. You have to say that you can’t do the deal.
You have to be honest why you can’t do the deal. This is the key. This is where you have to be forward and clear with why you’re rejecting the deal. Is it because of the terms? The clauses in the Agreement? The costs? Branding?
You have to make sure you give feedback on why you’re rejecting the deal. Why?
1) Your concerns might be negotiable. From my experience, potential partners are usually willing to work things out. I turned down this overseas partner I’ve been meeting with for months now, and I was clear with my reasons. Turns out, my major concern was negotiable. Now, we’re going to wait it out for a few developments on their end until talks are resumed.
2) This shows that you honor your potential partner. You honor his effort to meet with you and discuss terms with you. It shows that you value his/her time. This, for me, is the most important part. I’ve had countless talks with people who don’t give feedback, and it’s honestly annoying that they don’t.
By showing that you honor your potential partner, you don’t close the door completely and usually end on good terms. Who knows, this might lead to an even better deal for both parties later on. Most times, building your network is more important than signing every single deal that comes your way.
Once I learned to carefully reject potential partners, it got easier and is now almost second nature to me. Oh, if you haven’t figured it out, this can be applied in your personal lives, too.