how to not f*ck up relationships (in business & life)
Most people have a “relationship scoreboard” My Score vs. Your Score when I do something for you, you get points. We measure how much we’re getting from the other person. When they do less, you do less. When they do more, you do more. It’s “Tit for Tat”
But the game has a twist. 1st- the scoreboard is invisible until 1 person wants something from the other. 2nd- the scores don’t match. It’s easy to remember what I did for you & take for granted what you did for me. So both ppl think they’re losing This kills relationships
examples: I took my family on a roadtrip this week to LA. wife, 2 babies, and a dog in a car for 8 hours. By day 4 of the trip, we’re all having fun, but tired. We go to downtown disney last night (wife’s idea). By 10pm we’re getting in the car to go back to the hotel
she tells me she’s tire & would killllll for a foot rub when we get back. correct answer = yea babe sure my brain = quickly tally up the score for the trip. I’m losing ?? I say no, i’m tired too. i’ve been running around all day. I chose the selfish path
This default frame of “measuring” what you’re getting from the other person is a recipe for failure. It assumes the pie is X big and we’re each trying to TAKE as big of a slice as we can Soon, there’s nothing left on the plate, and both usually feel like they got shorted
In game theory this is called a Tit-For-Tat strategy: You’re friendly? I’m friendly. You’re selfish? I’m selfish. You mirror what your opponent does As soon as one party makes a selfish move, the other side counters with a selfish move. It goes 100% selfish in a few turns
So what’s the alternative? how do we not focus on “measuring” what we’re getting? how do we avoid the “tit for tat” strategy that most relaiontships fall into the trap of?
I learned this from a guy named Stan. He and his biz partner @JamesCurrier had been successful business partners for 15+ years. Ten years + tens of millions of dollars had come between them, and they didn’t break. How?
He said that he was lucky. James was a huge giver. Every chance he could get, he was trying to give give give. In their first company, James had way more equity (like a 90% vs. 10% split). When it came time to sell, james changed the deal last min so they’d get a 50/50 split
stan was stunned, this was a multi-million dollar gift that he had no reason to give. James said this is how he wanted it. Hearing this story – I did the same thing when i sold my startup. I had 2x the equity as my CTO @FurqanR but last min, I made sure we got equal payout
that’s how you cement a relationship for life. when you had an opportunity to be selfish, but you chose to be selfless, people remember that. That sets the tone. The relationship is about giving, not getting.
the opposite is true too. When you choose to be selfish. The other party always remembers. They store that away.
Stan said that it always felt like a “giving contest” who could give more to the project, to the relationship, to each other. in this model – the pie starts small, but gets bigger. Both people keep trying to make the pie bigger, and put bigger slices on each others plates
Instead of measuring “how much am I getting”, you have to start measuring “how much am I giving”. If you picked the right partner, they will do the same and you’ll end up with a big ole pie and a full belly. but.. fair warning: It sounds simple, but it’s f*cking hard to do
if the other party is not used to this, its easy to feel like you’re giving, and they’re taking (advantage of you). this just happened to me with a biz partner, and it stung. I gave, and they took. It didn’t feel great in the moment.
I haven’t found a fix for this except: *tell them that this is the type of relationship you want *lead by example (give first, give often) *forgive them if they start off as a taker, it’s natural *if after ~3+ times they’re still taking, cut the relationship off
people say relationships are complicated. in my opinion they’re simple. Simple, but hard to do well. (like most valuable things in life) You’ll likely have several key relationships: * spouse * business partners * kids / parents / siblings * neighbors
there’s no real school to learn how to do relationships well. We all learn the hard way (trial and error x time) That’s a shame. Someone should change that!