I went to a yoga workshop the other day. At one point we were instructed to find a partner for a few exercises. After overcoming my shyness with strangers I paired up with my neighbor. We tentatively began trying the moves together, being careful to make sure each other was safe and sound. It wasn't until we both really went for it-- leaned in opposite directions with our full weight, that we were counterbalanced enough to hold the position. It was the doing our own piece of the position, and only our own, that made the team dynamic and powerful.

For a long time I've recognized that I love partnerships. There's something about the shared responsibility that brings out the best in me. I don't have to do everything perfectly all by myself when I'm part of team, yet I seem to do most things better when someone else is depending on me. I can accept glory and defeat with grace and good humor. I'm proud and bold and powerful in a partnership.

What are the elements that make this whole greater than its parts? Of course you have to tell the truth, do your part, keep your commitments. Those things go without saying. Here are some other things I've learned that make partnership work well:

1. Complement each other's strengths and weaknesses

I like being valued for what I do well and having someone cover where I'm weak. I was once in charge of my company's display at an important trade show. One thing I know about myself is that I don't care about pretty little finishing touches, but I know other people do. They are the details that people remember. For this event I got the vendors lined up and the product pulled from the warehouse, and the pallets delivered to the convention hall. I'm great at utilitarian logistics but beyond that it seems like too much bother. Luckily I was paired with a woman who brought dozens of vases filled with fresh flowers, and pretty table linens. Our booth was stunning. Both contributions were important and neither would have been as good without the other.

2. Speak up about what you like and don't like

Certain tasks may seem particularly odious to one partner but are no big deal to another. For example, I hate driving around on errands but think entering Quicken data is a piece of cake. Don't assume you have to take on the horrific responsibility until you've discussed it. There may be a very equitable solution. In my household my husband deals with live spiders while I'm in charge of dead mice.

3. Speak up about what you need

If I know that you are going to tell me what you need then I can trust that and focus on my own responsibilities. I don't have to second guess you, or worry that you're okay. It's part of taking care of ourselves.

One of the things I like most about coaching is the co-created relationship. Once you get going the partnership generates incredible energy. Magical things start to happen like two halves of a ring coming together and Shazzam. My clients think it's me. I know it's them. We're both wrong. It's the partnership.

Author's Bio: 

Liz Sumner, M.A. is a Life Coach specializing in Self Care. For a complimentary coaching session to clarify what you truly want write to easumner@monad.net or visit www.WonderfulCoach.com.