Linda Finkle’s book “Finding the Fork in the Road: The Art of Maximizing the Potential of Business Partnerships,” is not one I would normally read, simply because I don’t have a specific interest in business partnerships. But Linda sent me a free copy of her book to review, along with a very nice handwritten note, and she followed that up with several nice, personal e-mails. That goes a long way with me, so I read the book and I’m happy to say I can recommend it if you are involved in or considering a partnership.
Linda focuses on the interpersonal aspects of having a partner in business. The book is very well written and includes 19 checklists that address all phases of the life cycle of a partnership. If you currently have a partner or are considering going into business with someone, you and your partner can work through these checklists together and prepare for all the major issues you are likely to encounter as you build your working relationship.
The book includes a lot of sound advice about communicating with your partner. I love this quote from Francis Garagnon that Linda includes in her book:
Between what I think I want to say, what I believe I am saying, what you believe you understood, and what you actually understood, there are at least nine possibilities for misunderstandings. (p. 92).
In her chapter on building a healthy relationship through communication, she shares Finkle’s Rules of Engagement (p. 96):
1. Remember you are adults, not children. Children are taught not to scream, accuse, throw things, call names, stomp out of the room, tattle, etc. Don’t be guilty of these things.
2. Follow the golden rule. Be respectful and treat others as you want to be treated.
3. Time out is OK. If emotions are high, its OK to agree to stop and come back to the discussion.
4. Listen more than talk. It really isn’t all about you.
5. WAIT. This stands for Why Am I Talking? Ask yourself whether you have something significant to say or you’re talking just to be heard.
6. Keep a clean sweatsock handy. If you can’t control yourself stuff the sweatsock in your mouth.
7. Clearly state your objective. Whether it’s a decision, to share information, ask for input, etc., lack of clarity on your part will result in assumptions by the other party.
8. Be honest, not brutal. Honesty is essential, brutality is not.
9. Care more about the outcome than being right. Who cares if you’re right? All that matters is a successful outcome.
The book has a lot of sage advice just like these rules of engagement. It’s a quick read, and even if you are not considering a partnership, you should find useful tips on how to get along with others at work.