Conflict can be healthy, even creative. What makes for successful partnerships is the combined differences in approach, talent, style, technique built on shared vision and purpose.
Here are some tips for avoiding the pitfalls of constant infighting or destructive conflict.
Communication at the Center
So many strong partnerships drop the ball here.
They begin to take one another for granted and stop acknowledging strengths as well as communicating dissatisfactions before they become resentments.
Unexpressed feelings ALWAYS come to the surface.
Establish regular patterns of communication. Avoid blame at all costs. Allow your partner to take responsibility by demonstrating that you can.
It may take a while before they learn to do it in which case, you get to raise that as a conversation. Remember that not being heard causes 90% of interpersonal conflicts.
Keep Shared Purpose on The Front Burner
Reviewing the shared purpose or basis of the partnership is key to ensuring that you are on the same page.
Occasionally, a partner’s individual interest will be in conflict with the shared purpose of the partnership. Bring interests into harmony is key. Failure to do so will lead to high conflict.
Remember Why Difference is Good
You became partners because in addition to a shared purpose, values, and perhaps even love, you each had stylistic differences and talents that complemented one another, filled holes in the other person’s list of innate abilities.
That means they will come things differently than you and that is a good thing.
Embrace suggestions and ideas that are different than yours. This is in fact what you signed up for and can take you places you might not get to on your own.
Everyone needs to be heard.
Important decisions demand everyone’s input and agreement. Unilateral decision-making in larger, more impactful decisions will lead to discord.
At least consult on major decisions and decisions that impact your shared purpose, change the way you will be doing things significantly.
No partner has ranked over another, though certainly, a partner will have expertise in an area the other does not.
In a healthy partnership, recognition and acceptance of expertise will lead to a degree of independence and efficiency. Unless previously agreed upon and always open for renegotiation, the primary wage earner (or CFO) does not control all the money, nor does the nest builder (or COO) control all decisions about the home (Facility).
All partnerships come to an end either once the purpose is complete and there is no future purpose to create, or a partner checks out emotionally or physically.
Endings always come, one way or another. Embrace endings with grace. Mourn them, release them, move on.