How Relationships Are Like Businesses

Does your relationship feel like work? Do you notice that you find yourself psychoanalyzing your mate, or rationalizing behavior that you find unacceptable? Do you go along to get along? These relationship strategies would not work in a successful business model, nor in a successful relationship. In fact, there are many similarities between good business and good relationship models.

Though you never want your relationship to be cold, calculating, or manipulating, there are basic rules of engagement that work well for both business and personal relationships:

1. In a good relationship, partners need to have similar values. This is also true in business. If each partner in both domains speaks the same language and shares the same values, they’re more likely to have the same vision for success. In business, you’d call this a good mission statement or business plan.

2. Focus is very important in relationships. For example, paying attention to each other’s needs and being aware of each other’s feelings allows each partner the opportunity to empathize with each other, rather than be reactive when problems arise. In business, such focus keeps you on top of your game and helps you take the positive steps that are necessary to catch problems before they become catastrophes.

3. When partners love each other, they are more willing to go the distance, no matter what life hands him or her. However, partners can love one another and still not make their marriage work. The same is true of business. A business can have a great business model and still not be able to succeed. In business, as in relationships, the four most important words are: commitment, obligation, responsibility, and mutuality.

4. All relationships, including business relationships, strategize. Partners in both scenarios take assessments and invest themselves in the actions necessary to achieve their goals. For example, in both relationships, success depends on communication, negotiation skills, collaboration, and a mutual investment in a positive outcome.

5. Value for value. In a good relationship, as in a good business deal, negotiations end with value for value: something left on the table of equal importance for both parties. This makes business partners, as well as relationship partners, mutual and mutuality is a win-win for everyone.

6. Maintenance. In both relationships, it’s important to maintain good will. This means to see and hear your partner, and value and validate them. In a relationship, for example, it’s important to respect your partner, remember important events, and be alert to signs of distress or danger. Of course, this is also important in business. In both situations, partners need to feel secure, and feel their needs are being met.

7. If problems cannot be solved in-house, both businesses and personal relationships must seek outside help. Business partners may reach for consultants while relationship partners may reach for a counselor to solve problems and reignite his/her relationship.

8. Finally, if the relationship or business partnership just can’t work, it’s important to recognize when to throw in the towel and leave. In business, your best loss is your first loss. In relationships, it’s important to recognize when to quit, when you’ve run out of options, and when your sense of self and emotional well-being is in jeopardy.