Content originally taken from eBella Magazine, “Partner Up” by Kelly Townsend
Our lives are filled with partnerships.
We collaborate with co-workers, employees we supervise, business associates and vendors. Then there are more personal partnerships with our family, spouse, children and even your child’s teacher or coach. It’s an exhaustive list.
When you think about it, we inherit most of our partnerships from the circumstances of our life. Most of us just accept these partnerships as is, and never stop to consider the status of the relationship or what’s being accomplished. But have you ever asked yourself what constitutes a powerful and lasting partnership?
Have you considered whether you are being a great partner — especially in the partnerships you’ve inherited? What could you do to make those kinds of relationships really great? I have four steps that I’ve found useful to making a thriving and satisfying relationship work over time.
First, partnership begins with you being 100 percent responsible for the success of your relationship. Most people follow what I call the 50/50 rule — as in, “if you do you part, I’ll do mine.” I find time and time again that this reasoning just doesn’t work. That’s because ultimately no one is accountable for the relationship, and therefore there’s always a back door to sneak out.
You’ll get more mileage out of your collaboration if you not only hold yourself accountable for your actions, but hold the other person accountable as well. Now that you’re giving 100 percent to this association, consider clarifying for yourself who you will be in that partnership. For instance, will you be a generous and compassionate partner — or will you be authentic, inspiring and empowering? When you know what role you’ll play, it’s clear what the other person can expect from you. This requires discipline and integrity on your part to truly be the person you say you’re going to be in both words and actions.
To have a successful alliance, I find that it’s beneficial to create with your associate what you both are committed to in your partnership. In other words, what can you count on from each other? Is it saying exactly what you feel without fear of reprisal or offending the other person? Or is it empowering each other in fulfilling each person’s role? Whatever you decide, talk about it and decide together.
Finally, create ground rules for working together with your partner. Perhaps that means both of you agree to be on time for meetings and complete work when it’s due; if you can’t honor the agreement you let the other person know. You may have a ground rule of treating each other with mutual respect and trust, or restore the relationship as soon as possible if there’s an argument or other breakdown. Some people may say they don’t have time to create this kind of partnership. I counter that you’ll have a much higher success rate when you establish relationships that have this level of clarity.
In the long run, you’ll both be more productive. Drama in relationships is a big factor for low morale and lack of productivity; and it leads to stress. The key to successful, lasting, thriving relationships is that they are based on a foundation of integrity. You must be trustworthy to have any partnership. Although you cannot control other people’s actions, it’s key that you are someone who can be counted on to consistently keep your agreements with people over time. This isn’t always easy, but I challenge you to put this advice into practice, and watch your partnerships flourish.