“Partnership is a synallagmatic and commutative participation in profits” (Civil Code of Louisiana, 1808).

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A “SYNALLAGMATIC” RELATIONSHIP WITH ANOTHER PERSON? Well, you probably have and just didn’t know it. In civil law, a synallagmatic contract is one in which each party is obligated to provide something to the other party. The word comes from the Greek synallagma (“mutual agreement”).

So what does this have to do with the concept of “partnership”? Just this: a partnership is a relationship in which two or more parties agree to work together “synallagmatically” — each helping the other in certain ways, so that a result is reached that is beneficial to all. And without a doubt, this idea is one of the most important ideas in history.

In business, it used to be that there was a hard line drawn between “partners” and “competitors.” But nowadays, businesses are much more likely to see the benefits of partnership, even with companies that are competitors. It is not unusual now to hear of companies partnering on specific projects while still competing in other areas.

As trends go, this one is refreshing. And frankly, I wish that more of us could see the value of this approach in our personal lives. We tend to think only in terms of “allies” and “adversaries,” and when we take an adversarial approach to anyone who seems to be in “competition” with us, we lose the advantages that come from the paradigm of partnership and mutual benefit. Granted, there are some non-negotiable areas in which we may find ourselves on opposite sides of a question. But wouldn’t it help if we made an effort to see others as partners as much as possible and as competitors as little as possible?

The indisputable fact is this: none of us is completely independent. We need the help of others. We need partnerships in life. And we need to be people with whom others are delighted to partner.

“What needs to be cultivated among men interested in social relationships whether as owner, manager or employee, producer or consumer, seller or buyer, partner or competitor, is self-control, refraining from unfair advantage, determination to give value as well as to take it; the appreciation that immediate gain is not the principal consideration; that one group cannot continue to profit at the expense of another without eventual loss to both; that all classes of men are mutually dependent on the services of each other; that the best service yields the greatest profit” (Preston S. Arkwright).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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