Who Are You? 14 Rules of Long-Lasting Partnerships

Who Are You? 14 Rules of Long-Lasting Partnerships

“Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)”

— Chorus from “Who Are You,” written by Pete Townshend, lead track on “Who Are You” album by The Who,
released on 18 August 1978

We were fortunate enough to see “The Who Hits 50!” tour this month — what a show! Congratulations to The Who’s Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey for reaching the 50-year milestone in their partnership! The long-standing collaboration between Townshend and Daltrey has definitely made this world a better place.

Longevity in relationships matter greatly — in business and in life. So what factors contribute to longevity? It’s a difficult question to answer and one that has vexed psychologists for hundreds of years.

Think about your relationships that have endured for years versus those that proved transitory. What characteristics would you say contributed to long-term resiliency? What factors do you think made the relationship less resilient?

At Quadrillion, we operate based on a few important tenets or rules which we believe promote longevity (and effectiveness) in our relationships and fuel lasting partnerships. Some of these may seem rudimentary, but, for us, they are fundamental:

Rule #1: Be honest, even if it hurts. Tell the truth, always. No exceptions. No shortcuts. Don’t exaggerate, either, as it usually means you’re not really being honest.

Rule #2: Listen more than you speak. Even if you believe that what you have to say is vital to national security, solving world hunger, or the very success of your business, stop and listen to others. You will learn something, the other person will consider your point of view more often, and a superior outcome will result.

Rule #3: Engage in activities that are “self-expanding” — for you and your relationships. Everyone wants that feeling of discovery that comes from learning something new and from accomplishing a challenging endeavor. Partnerships thrive on positive shared experiences. Seek self-expanding opportunities where you and your business partners accomplish successes together.

Rule #4: Be humble and somewhat self-deprecating. Albert Einstein’s IQ was 160 (versus a normal range of 85 to 115), yet, he was very modest about his accomplishments. If your IQ is over 115, congratulations; however, no one likes partnering with a “know-it-all.” As Forrest Gump showed us, the most impressive outcomes are often spawned from humility and character over intelligence and ego.

Rule #5: Laugh. Humor opens people to hear things differently and promotes creativity and trust. Humor is not only a great icebreaker, but studies have shown that laughter encourages relationship development. Laugh regularly, and everyone you know will be better for it.

Rule #6: Set common goals and work to achieve them. Setting attainable goals is part art, part science. Achieving them usually involves hard work. Making these goals “shared” across your relationships is a good way to build new bonds and common experiences. Plan to achieve many, but probably not all, of these goals. Celebrate the successes too.

Rule #7: Be tenacious. Relationships are a bit like marathons: endurance matters. To endure, you have to “want it” and be tenacious in your focus to overcoming obstacles. Some folks call tenacity other names like perseverance, persistence, determination, commitment and resilience.

Rule #8: Be like Kevin Bacon and help connect the dots in your network. Introducing your important relationships to other people you value is a great way to cement bonds.

Rule #9: Embrace ambiguity and white space in the relationship. Fundamentally, there will always be ambiguity in a relationship and areas that are blank in terms of your knowledge of the other person (otherwise known as “white spaces”). Ambiguity is a good thing. Use the white spaces as opportunities to grow your relationship. Give more often than you receive.

Rule #10: Contribute. Always try to add value. Step in, even when not asked, to help. Act to help others; don’t just talk about it.  Be a participant.

Rule #11: Admit mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Own up to them quickly and move on. Learn from your mistakes.

Rule #12: Be respectful. All good partnerships include disagreements, but it’s how you manage conflict that’s important. Embrace conflict and work through it in a respectful way. Everyone wants to feel that his or her contributions, opinions and person is respected.

Rule #13: Recognize value. There is only so much time in the day, and relationship building takes time. Differentiate and prioritize but always recognize that all relationships have value.

Rule #14: Help slay the “elephant in the room.” You’ve seen it: There’s a question or comment that needs to be made in a meeting, but everyone avoids it. Be the person who asks the hard question or points out the uncomfortable fact.  Your partners will value you for it.

Now ask yourself —who are you?

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