As a traveling business development lead, I try to remind myself every day that I’m just working with humans. I try hard to build relationships and earn trusts by remembering that the leaders I partner with, at the end of the day, are just people with regular lives.
One example of this is I’ve had executives cancel meetings or not show up to meetings after I had flown across the country to see them. Never once have I questioned “why” or “how could they do that?”. Why? It’s not my place. For all I know their kid is sick or a parent needed a ride to the store or they just needed that hour back in their day because their boss just dropped a bomb on them. Since I’ve built a trusting and foundational relationship, more often than not, the time gets rescheduled and is way more productive than if they would have pushed through in order to be “polite” to me.
So, the next time something seems off with a partner or coworker, please respond with empathy first and I guarantee that it will work out better for you and your counterpart in future interactions.