How we use words in our day-to-day life, both in our personal and professional world, are very important. Through language, we use words to convey our thoughts and feelings. As we communicate with others, we need to be cognizant of how others are interpreting our words to ensure our message comes across the way we intended it to and get the reaction we want. “Partner” and “opponent” are words that can used to describe the relationship between two individuals or companies in the marketplace, but their meanings are very different.
When most of us think of the word “opponent”, we think of our competitors or rivals in the marketplace. We think about victory and defeat or winning and losing. In the marketplace we are constantly trying to “beat up” our opponents. “Aggressive” is the key word here. Very few people can handle a tough marketplace and become successful. The strong take advantage of the weak and the majority will quit never quite realizing what they could have made of themselves or their company.
For many in today’s marketplace, the attitude is, “Only the strong survive.” Too often though we forget to ask ourselves if the goal is really to survive or is it to grow and use the knowledge you’ve gained to evolve? With an adversarial attitude, the only thing that grows is yours and your competitor’s ego. You could say that a person who has a “take no enemies” approach to business and has “accomplished” a lot, when in reality they might be over-stressed and are sadly unfulfilled as they are never satisfied and want to “conquer” the next task. Succumbing to this opponent attitude is futile as your struggle is always with yourself.
Now, think of the difference in both your personal and professional life if you shifted from an opponent or adversarial role to a partner role. When you do this, you stop looking at life as every man for themselves and instead you look at the skills you bring to the table along with those of your partners, whether they are your colleagues at work or other companies you work with. The environment becomes one of increasing progress versus a mindset of kill or be killed.
A great partner learns to adapt to the environment they are in and recognizes the skill level of the other people they are working with and encourages everyone to work at their greatest potential. Pushing and challenging your partners will be just as intense as when you were looking at the marketplace as full of opponents. The difference though, is that instead of creating an offer by yourself, you learn to partner with others to create offers in the marketplace that have marginal value and that make you unique in the marketplace.
Changing your mindset from an opponent to a partner one can help in making you a trusted advisor to your clients as you seek to create solutions that are specific to their concerns and not developing solutions that differentiate you from the competitor who is bidding on the same contract. A partner mindset will allow you create uncommon offers without having to think about what the competition is offering. Addressing your clients specific concerns will make them feel like they are in a win/win situation and your clients will want to return to you again and again.This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.