You don't have to look far to observe whether you have a successful partnership or not. Just observe your circle of influence. Are you having a happy marriage? Do you have friends who go head over heels to help you? Is your business ecosystem works favorable towards you? Do you sleep well at night not worrying about facing the day after?
We are in a way a reflection of our surrounding. Hence the degree of our success in life is dependent on the success of our partnership. Managing partnership is very much about managing interpersonal relationship. At the very foundation, the basic element is trust. Without trust, there can never be a partnership. Trust got to be earned. There's no way a person can buy trust unless you are a corrupt politician or a Mafia big boss. For most of us, we cannot make an offer the other person can't refuse like Don Corleone.
Therefore we build trust by giving favors. Stephen Covey term this action as topping the emotional bank account. It is a very simple concept but yet as profound as the adage "do onto others what you want others to do onto you." Imagine you have a bank account. Every time you do good to somebody, you top-up your account with that person. Conversely, if you do bad deeds with the person, you withdraw from the account. Over time, the account fluctuates and eventually settles at a resting point. If the resting point is a positive balance, you are in the good book. If otherwise, you are in trouble.
The following are some examples of an emotional bank account:
- Keep promises
- Be kind and courteous
- Be loyal
- Set clear expectations
- Break promises
- Be unkind and discourteous
- Be disloyal; bad-mouth
- Don't listen
- Be arrogant
- Create false expectations
There is a little caveat to this conundrum; that is you have to assume people are good at the core. We must have faith in humanity at large. This is not an easy feat to achieve. There bound to be liars, swindlers and smooth talkers around. At times when you trust people so much, you eventually get hurt. How do you know you can trust a person? A very tricky question. The science of neuro-linguistic programming offers some hint. You can tell either from the eyes or the rate of speech whether a person is honest or not. Also, notice the breathing. It tells a lot about the person.
In my experience, if a person seems hasty, then caveat emptor - buyer beware. Do proper due diligence especially in making decisions involving money. There is a famous book written by a businessman named Harvey Mackay. The title is Beware of the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt. To sum it up, if a person makes too good of an offer, stay clear from him as far as you can.
The mainland Chinese has a practice. It's called guanxi. Basically, it means doing favors. A person may need to do many favors before he can enter into a business with another party. In China, it is a common practice to give gifts to another party before initiating a partnership. Since nowadays such practice is frowned upon as bribery, they settle with a drinking or karaoke session as part of the new guanxi. I knew a magnanimous person once. As far as I can remember, KAT (his acronym) will always be the person forking up the bills when he goes out with friends. The effort pays off eventually because the last I heard he is a monopoly service provider to one of the telco giants. Not bad for having a practice of picking up the tabs among friends.
There is a saying, "people who are like each other also like each other." That means we are the reflection of our environment. So the success or failure we have in life also determined by the company we keep. Birds of same feathers flock together. As you progress through life, you accumulate a network of support structure around you. It helps that you sieve your contacts from very early stage of your life to avoid future complications. After all, a man is measured by the company that he keeps.