I have at times challenged the institution of marriage, even criticised it at times for how it has morphed into a legal, gender-biased, religious and political institution and believed that it requires some reinvention or at least needs to be reviewed. But when I look at marriage as a partnership, or perhaps the greatest partnership of our life, it all starts making sense. A great marriage or partnership needs certain ingredients to make it great and successful. What does it take to make it a great partnership? Many say it is Love, it is all about love for each other’s company. But Love, like God, is over-used, ambiguous and abstract and can mean many things to many people. We know that great partnerships won’t just happen. To fully describe the building blocks of a great partnership we need ‘actionable’ and ‘tactile’ words.
I work for a company that believes in developing a strengths-based workplace and culture. In a strengths-based culture, leaders, managers and employees choose to continually develop each person’s potential, resulting in an engaged workforce and organic business growth. This week we did a workshop on how to create strengths-based partnerships at work. It discussed the Eight Elements of a Powerful Partnership identified by Gallup and how we can nourish them in a workplace. I couldn’t stop and wonder how they would apply in our personal lives, to our love relationships.
Here are the Eight Ingredients that make a powerful partnership straight from our training program:
Complementary Strengths: Everyone has weaknesses and blind spots that create obstacles to reaching a goal. One of the most powerful reasons for teaming up is working with someone who is strong where you are weak, and vice versa. Individuals are not well-rounded, but pairs can be. Individuals in a partnership can complement each other, team up, reinforce each other’s strengths and cover and compensate for the other’s weaknesses and blind spots.
A Common Mission: When a partnership fails, the root cause is often that the two people were pursuing separate agendas. When partners want the same thing badly enough, they will make the personal sacrifices necessary to see it through. As partners, do you have the same vision for your life, a common purpose and overarching goals?
Fairness: Humans have an instinctive need for fairness. Because the need for fairness runs deep, it is an essential quality of a strong partnership. Fairness reflects in how you treat your partner, how you share your resources with them and how you celebrate the results of your collaboration. Boundaries that apply to one also apply to another.
Trust: This is the cornerstone of relationships. Working with someone means taking risks. You are not likely to contribute your best work unless you trust that your partner will do his or her best. Without trust, it’s easier to work alone. Also once this trust is broken, it is hard, sometimes impossible to build it back again.
Acceptance: We see the world through our own set of lenses. Whenever two disparate personalities come together, there is bound to be certain friction from their differences. This can be a recipe for conflict unless both learn to accept the idiosyncrasies of the other. It is not the same as tolerating another person’s misdoings. Any rough edges which can come in the way of achieving common goals have to be acknowledged, discussed, and smoothened out over time.
Forgiveness: People are imperfect. They make mistakes. They sometimes do the wrong thing. Without forgiveness, the natural revenge motives that stem from friend-or-foe instincts will overpower all the reasons to continue a partnership, and it will dissolve.
Communicating: In the early stages of a partnership, communicating helps to prevent misunderstandings; later in the relationship, a continuous flow of information makes the work more efficient by keeping the two people synchronized. All the above blocks require clear communication to build.
Unselfishness: In the best working relationships, the natural concern for your own welfare transforms into gratification in seeing your comrade succeed. Those who have reached this level say such collaborations become among the most fulfilling aspects of their lives. Each of us needs to genuinely think in the best long-term interest of the other and support the partner to become a better self, into becoming our true better half.
Do these make sense to you? Can you relate to them? Can you see your own relationships in the light of these key ingredients? I urge you (and myself) to reflect on these and review our relationships in the light of these elements, see if we can relate to them, and check where we stand and where we can improve and build upon I hope you find these useful and use this to start/build/strengthen your relationships.