Five Stages of Partnership
by: Layne and Paul Cutright
All partnerships, and all relationships for that matter,
go through five predictable stages. Knowing these stages
is like having a map that will help you to accurately
assess where you are and where you can go.
All partnerships, and all relationships for that matter,
go through five predictable stage. Knowing these stages
is like having a map that will help you to accurately
assess where you are in your partnerships, see where you
have been and where you can go. This will also
allow you to deal effectively with the particular
concerns of the stage you are in. For example, upsets,
disagreements, miscommunications and misunderstandings
are a predictable, inevitable and unavoidable part of
the second stage. If you dont know that, you could
easily misinterpret what is going on in the relationship,
make inappropriate choices and miss important learning
and growth opportunities. Each stage requires a different,
yet overlapping set of skills. Mastering partnership is
about mastering these skills.
STAGE ONE – ATTRACTION
This stage of relationships is characterized by a
fascination with another person, organization
or project and a desire to learn more about them,
as well as a desire to share yourself. Its fun
and it feels good. This is the time when positive
possibilities are sensed and explored. This is
the stage people wish would last forever.
ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR SUCCESS IN ATTRACTION:
1. Be interested, not merely interesting.
2. Look for and focus on the best in others.
3. Acknowledge/compliment others on the good you see
in them and their accomplishments.
4. Help people to relax with you – put them at ease.
5. Know what the most important things are for people
to know about you and weave those things into your
conversations so you feel they “get” who you are.
6. To simply “be” with others without an agenda
7. Keep your word to build trust.
8. Be authentic.
9. Look good and smell good!
10. Speech acts to learn and master:
High performance listening
2. Jumping to conclusions.
3. Moving too quickly into a commitment conversation.
4. Expecting people to read your mind and anticipate
your conditions for satisfaction.
5. Stereotyping or categorizing.
STAGE TWO – POWER STRUGGLE
This is the stage where people start testing each other.
It is one of the most difficult stages for people.
Who is going to get whose way and how? Distrust from
your unresolved past manifests and there is often a
fear of loss of control and heavy judgments of the other
person start to show up. Many relationships never
move beyond this stage and many end here.
This stage is really about building trust.
1. Know and identify your feelings.
2. Speak congruently with your emotions.
3. Communicate without blame.
4. Self-reflection – observe your thoughts,
feelings and behaviors without judgment.
5. Own/take responsibility for your mistakes
6. Observe your automatic interpretations
of others and events.
7. Be present to someone elses upset without defense.
8. Know and articulate your requirements for trust.
9. Be able to restore trust when broken.
10. Use current upsets to resolve the past.
11. Ask for help.
12. Forgive yourself and others.
13. Make correction without invalidation.
14. Dont control others or make their choices for them.
15. Dont sacrifice – be generous.
16. Practice spiritual attunement to find the highest path.
17. Take the initiative – be responsible for your own needs.
18. Turn your complaints into requests.
19. Be clear-headed and rational while feeling intense
feelings or while in the presence of others intense feelings.
20. Control your temper.
1. Giving ultimatums.
2. Blaming others.
3. Gossiping or participating in gossip.
4. Being mean, attacking, hurtful or hypercritical.
5. Saying things youll regret.
STAGE THREE – COOPERATION
This is the stage where you learn to trust one another
and to resolve upsets to your mutual satisfaction and
benefit. You learn to share power and appreciate each
others unique abilities and gifts. However, it is still self oriented “What can I get out of this relationship?” rather than
“What can we create with this relationship?” Beware of
false cooperation in which one person acquiesces to the
other in order to “keep the peace”. This is still
Power Struggle, only in a more subtle form.
1. Know and articulate the essence of your desires.
2. Expand your capacity for compassion.
3. Read others emotions.
4. Assess trustworthiness in others and assume
trust rather than suspicion.
5. Inspire high level of trust from others.
6. Care deeply about others.
7. Feel connected with others.
8. Generate enthusiasm.
9. Find and define a common path.
10. Know and articulate how others affect you,
e.g., their losing/winning, problems/thriving.
11. Make choices for long-term gain – overcome
the need for instant gratification.
12. Competency with creation techniques,
e.g., visualization, goal setting, etc.
13. Know and articulate your changing conditions
14. Neutralize competition while inspiring cooperation.
15. Ability to articulate higher path, especially
16. Be diplomatic and cordial even when worried,
upset and during stress.
17. Facilitate conversations for:
Speculation and possibility
Planning and design
Commitment and action
1. Making assumptions.
2. Sacrifice – it always leads to resentment.
3. Withholding important communication out of fear.
STAGE FOUR – SYNERGY
This is the stage where there is a realization
of a power greater than that of each individual.
There is also a commitment to a specified focus
and use of the power. Extraordinary satisfaction,
intimacy, and a deep sense of mutual trust,
empowerment and ease characterize this stage. It is a highly creative, high performance relationship. It also possesses a high
level of acknowledgment and appreciation. The relationship
emanates joy and power in this stage.
1. Regenerate creativity.
2. Balance work and play.
3. Be alert to and neutralize complacency.
4. Fine tune and evolve specific talents.
5. Dance and surrender during the times of chaos
before new beginnings.
6. Let go of ego and attachments.
7. Be as committed to the larger process you
are involved in as you are to your own individual part.
8. Practice letting the relationship “breathe”.
9. Anticipate temporary Power Struggle when you
uplevel commitment and prepare for it.
1. Taking the relationship and people for granted.
2. Becoming overly intoxicated with the glory of
synergy and get out of balance in your life.
3. Expecting synergy to last without nurturing
STAGE FIVE – COMPLETION
This is a stage many people fear and avoid dealing
with altogether. There are four ways relationships
can be completed: drifting apart, expulsion/ejection,
conscious completion or death. Sometimes completion
is only about changing the form of the relationship,
not necessarily the end of the relationship altogether.
1. Accept and flow with change.
2. Acknowledge and integrate the value and learning
from the relationship.
3. Spiritual attunement.
4. Own up to mistakes without self-invalidation.
5. Make apologies.
6. Redefine your common path – change form.
7. Articulate the highest spiritual thought about the
8. Know what you need to feel complete.
9. Generate a safe space and a conversation to
make sure everything that needs to be said or
done to feel complete is communicated in a spirit
of love and dignity for all parties concerned.
10. Allow for a healthy expression of fear,
anger, grief or any other emotion.
1. Feeling victimized.
2. Taking things too personally.
3. Resisting change.
4. Misperceiving that others are the source of your good or happiness.
© 2006 Paul and Layne Cutright All rights reserved.
You may publish this article in its entirety and
with the authors resource information intact.
About The Author
Layne and Paul Cutright are relationship coaches and teachers who have been offering secrets and strategies for successful relationships at home and in business since 1976. They are authors of the best selling book, Youre Never Upset for the Reason You Think Secrets and Strategies for Resolving Any Upset Quickly and Easily. www.PaulandLayne.com
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