The situation

I'm working together with 2 persons on freelance basis. I've known both of them for a very long time already. One of them is a relative, which is why he doesn't want to work directly with me (in fear of compromising our relationship). The other is a friend.

The issue

The friend is working directly with me. However, he's got no organisation-skills and is really all over the place with everything he does. This has caused the project we're working on to be delayed. He blamed me for everything leading up to the delay. Since I'm not in the mood for a discussion with him, since I don't feel I can get my point across to him that way, I accepted everything he blamed me for without much of a reply.

The possible solutions

Though I didn't reply, I do feel wronged, and am afraid that the relative will also think I'm messing up since he only heard the story from the friend's side. I can prove that I didn't mess up, as I have documents in which it states that I required parts from the friend before I can start, most of which he never gave me.

The question is, should I point out the fault of the friend to clear my name, or should I just accept it and try to fix it, because telling it might mess up the relation between the relative and the friend (and perhaps have even more repercussions I'm not aware of yet).


Thanks for the replies so far. I have a feeling I haven't been complete enough, so I'll try to elaborate. I am able to see my own fault in the matter, as I didn't do things perfectly well the last couple of days. I admitted that as well. The issue however is that I'm also being blamed for not having started months ago, which is the moment I told the friend about my requirements before I could start. The requirements where clearly stated in a document. That friend however met barely any of the requirements in said document.

When I noticed (after repeatedly reminding the friend of the requirements) that I wouldn't be getting much more information than I had months ago, I agreed to start right away, filling in the gaps together as we go. Between the time we agreed to that, and the moment I got blamed for not starting on time, I did miss one agreement we made.

Now I'm blamed for missing the last agreement, to which I agreed, but also to not having started months ago.

Specifically: Should I remind that friend and my relative that I haven't started months ago because the friend failed to meet his end of the agreement, or should I leave it as is?

  • Just a side comment, this is part of the reason why going into business with friends/family can be messy and, unless you know they have a good work ethic, is generally a bad idea; personal relationships can and will get in the way of actual business. – panoptical Mar 5 '15 at 14:45
  • I agree, as does the relative. That is also the reason why he refuses to handle things with me directly. I agree to that and respect his opinion on that matter. – user33090 Mar 5 '15 at 14:57

There are always two sides of a coin, you must at least let your friend know that you're aware of that.

If you feel the need to propose a statement about your friend's failures and you're certain that it's necessary then you should first identify what you could have done better and then suggest what your friend could have done different to avoid the failure.

I admit that in the case of X I could have done Y instead of Z to avoid this failure of ours and I feel that you could have done M instead of N. Let's try to focus on Z and N to gain a successful continuity here.

Admitting your own failure, even if you feel there was none, will enable others to admit theirs.


This situation should be handled in a similar way stress should be handled: You don't make a mess or worry about things you can't avoid, instead one must focus on doing what he can to migrate the worst possible outcome.

Similarly; you can't change what has happened here, it's over, wasting time arguing about it will not fix the situation, hence you should not do anything about it.

You can, however, learn from the situation and ensure that it won't happen again, pointing out to your friend and relative how you, as a team, could avoid future delays is okay (by learning from the past) but blaming for the past will not fix your problem.

I understand that this is quite vague but I believe my point has come out.

  • Thank you for the advice. You are right, however the situation is slightly more complicated than that. I hope my edit explains more on that. P.S: Sorry for the long story, and thank you for taking the time for it. – user33090 Mar 5 '15 at 14:58
  • @user33090 I tried to elaborate to my answer. – Jonast92 Mar 5 '15 at 15:18
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    Agree w/ Jonas; how you got here is, in the end, less important than how you get out. Make that as collaborative as possible while being aware of and compensating for any remaining issues. If you have management, you can let the know that you don't think it's your "fault" but that you are leading an active effort to fix it. If you don't have management -- if it's just the three of you -- fix the problem first, then discuss -- in as blame-free a manner as you can -- what needs to happen to prevent a recurrence. Which may require you managing your friend's priorities and delivery dates more expl – keshlam Mar 5 '15 at 16:00

There are always 2 sides of a story. This should not be a blame game. Once you start doing this everybody loses. Anybody will become defensive when they feel they are being attacked.

I would try really listening to the friend and understand his perspective. Don't judge or blame anyone. Try to understand what his experience is and why he believes it's your fault.

After that gently explain what your experience is. Try to make observations, not accusations. Emphasize that this is your experience and that it may not necessarily match the "truth"

After that identify solutions that you both think would work in the future. The key is to work together to sort this out and not turn it into a confrontation.

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