What does it take to be a good partner?

By: Ashley Hillman
Community Collaborations Director

What does it take to be a good partner? This question has been on the forefront of my mind the past few weeks as my department (Community Impact) has restructured so that we can be better partners within the community. As a result of this restructure, I have been able to spend much more time in the west side of Salt Lake, particularly Glendale and Poplar Grove. The more time I spend in these neighborhoods, the more I learn about, not just partnership, but about authentic partnership and reciprocity.

Partnership comes in all shapes and sizes. Friendship, marriage, family and multitudes of relationships we develop throughout our lives give us the opportunity to practice partnership. When you get down to the bare bones of it, partnership in the professional environment isn’t that different. Partnership, whether it’s personal or professional, brings us together around something all parties have in common. This might be similar interests, shared goals, or common values. Partnership is a two-way street where all parties involved have something to bring to the table and all parties have something to take away.

And yes—conflict is inevitably a component of good, healthy partnership, as well–which leads to the importance of communication. Partnership absolutely requires honest, open communication. Whether it’s with my husband or with a partner in the community, I have learned that being honest about a frustration and talking about it in an environment that is open and welcoming to that type of communication is what allows all parties to move on from that frustration and to grow the partnership. (Through good communication, I’ve learned that speaking to my husband while he’s driving south on I-15 only results in frustration, decreased active listening, and potential life endangerment. Now that I know this, drives on I-15 S aren’t half bad—our marriage is intact and we both arrive to our destination in one piece!) Partnerships should experience growing pains because this is what will strengthen the foundation of the partnership.
Walking down a road (and particularly a road less traveled) alone is much more difficult to do without a partner.

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