In business relationships, especially those involving external parties, one side often has perceived leverage over the other. By this I mean one party has something the other party greatly desires. While this imbalance tends to occur more often in instances where a larger company deals with a smaller one, I also see numerous instances where a much smaller company has an asset the larger partner covets.
In my consultancy, I get to observe and experience this dynamic from different perspectives, as sometimes I represent a large corporate client, other times a smaller entity seeking to do business with a large corporation. While many professionals on both sides of these relationships often conduct themselves admirably, I find it dismaying that some parties with a perceived power position are not as considerate or respectful towards the other as they could or should be. Common behaviors include: repeatedly missing time commitments and/or deadlines, being late to meetings, not communicating (including not returning calls/messages) and prolonging decision making.
In truth, these perceptions may not accurately reflect the intent and attitudes of the offending party. While the behaviors may be unacceptable and viewed negatively, the offending party often claims to be overextended, and can not make the time for courteous business behavior. After all, when one thinks he is working as hard as he can, who has time for niceties, right? It doesn't matter. Bad behavior is bad behavior regardless of cause or intent. Anything else is just a rationalization.
In any business relationship, especially if you're in the power position, consider your behaviors towards others with whom you have business relationships, including external parties. If you recognize that you practice any of the offensive behaviors I've described, find a way to cut them out. They are not professional and don't reflect well on you or your company. Also, you should recognize that your position is not necessarily permanent and people you've abused can have long memories. At some point, you may even find yourself on the other side of a power imbalance.