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Definitions of "Partnering Intelligence, "Smart Partners," and other partnering concepts
See partnering terminology

First step in building an effective internal or external partnering solution:
Assess your personal or organizational partnering capabilities

Like constructing a building, creating a successful partnership requires using a blueprint or model.
Read about a proven partnering model built on a partnering culture

Six Partnering Attributes

Our Six Partnering Attributes are a behavior-based system that results in an environment conducive to building trust and creating mutual beneficial relationships. One must be fluid in all six attributes in order to reap the benefits of trusting business relationships, since the six attributes build on and reinforce each other.

The Six Partnering Attributes make up your Partnering Intelligence and are the foundation of building a partnering atmosphere, or Partnering Culture, within an organization. The six attributes include:

How well do you disclose information to each other?

Can you give important feedback comfortably?

Are conversations open and direct in your business?

Do you feel like people withhold information?

Do you have difficulty telling someone something?

Do people point fingers rather than communicate?

Self-Disclosure and Feedback

Communication is the life-blood of any organization. Communication is critical to healthy relationships, and how we communicate is just as important as what we say.

The ability to disclose relevant information, share personal and business experiences, and provide honest, direct and timely feedback is critical to closing the communication loop.

Self-disclosure and feedback are foundation skills that not only energize organizational life but build trust in the process.


Is your organization creating losers?

Is conflict simmering just under the surface of your business?

How do you deal with office bullies?

Are you losing the input of your talent because of disagreements?

Do disagreements prevent your organization from moving forward?

Are people in your workplace angry?

Win/Win Orientation

Getting to the win builds trust and frees-up communication. We are all hardwired to react to disagreements based on both our DNA and our early conditioning. This stimulus is predicated on the fact that we want to protect ourselves from threats. As with all living beings, our instinctual options are fight or flight.

However, we can move away from our inherent style to one based on reason, needs, and communication through the use of the Negotiator style. To do this successfully, we must recognize our own inherent style and during times of emotional duress move to the learned style. Only then can we build trust with others and not create losers in the process.


Do your managers trust your employees?

Do your employees trust your managers?

Do your partners trust you?

Do you trust your partners?

Ability to Trust

Trust is the foundation of all relationships. Without trust, there is no communication. Without trust there is no win/win. Trust is the basis for all healthy and productive relationships. It is also the key to enabling others and yourself to use the Six Partnering Attributes effectively.

Without trust, you cannot have creativity, innovation or risk-taking; and employee loyalty goes right out the door, resulting in higher retention cost and poor morale. Trust is the only partnering attribute that is both an input into the relationship as well as an outcome of its use.

Read about the 10 C's of Trust

"We've tried that before and it didn't work."

"Don't give the project to him. He's always late."

"We can't do that. They don't know the system limitations."

"I don't trust her to represent my point of view."

Future Orientation

Do you ever hear these kinds of comments in your workplace? If so, perhaps your organization is infected with a past orientation. Leaders, employees, and organizations that continue to look to the past to make future decisions will find themselves mired in the past.

Whether we are talking about business processes, systems, or each other, past orientation tends to demoralize people and can create a negative pall over an entire organization. This is especially true when leadership, managers, or supervisors embrace a past orientation.

Looking to the future, establishing needs, and then holding each other accountable for the negotiated results are the hallmarks of a future-oriented organization. How well does your business do?

Read our article about Future Orientation versus past orientation occurring in one of the world's leading companies.

"I am just burned out on all this change!"

"Why are they changing it again? It works just fine."

"Every time they change something, it gets worse!"

"I don't want to change. I like it just the way it is."

"They change just for the sake of changing."

Comfort with Change

What is your change style?  Are you a resistor, adaptor or an initiator? Do you personally embrace change and the opportunities it brings, or do you resist change? 

Change is constant and will not go away. If anything, it will only accelerate over time. Initiating too much change is as deadly to a business as resisting change. What's the right balance?

Understanding your change style, your change resistors and having strategies in place to manage change is a key to building trust with others and getting new and innovative opportunities to the workplace.


Are your team meetings non-productive?

Do you feel like you're spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere?

Do your people seem more concerned about protecting themselves than helping others?

Do some people just go away and lock themselves in their offices, shunning others?

Comfort with Interdependence 

Finding the balance between teamwork and individual contribution can be difficult, especially in today's complex organizational life where no one person, department, or organization has all the solutions.

Do your employees feel a duty to help each other's success?

Internal partners, people who work together within an organization, form the most important partnerships a business can have. Getting them to not only work together well but to have a duty to help each other's success is a rare event in businesses around the world.

Comfort with interdependence helps conceptualize how we can be independent enough to contribute our own talents to the team and dependent enough to trust others to do their part in the process. It's a tough balance but, when it occurs, the magic of synergy happens.

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