The top 3 reasons collaborative partnerships fail & how to create conditions for success

The top 3 reasons collaborative partnerships fail (coaching) & how to create conditions for success

Unmet Expectations in Partnerships

Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations we’re not consciously aware of. For instance, the desire for the person we work with to solve all our problems. Though our problems have been created over the course of many years, the expectation that working together will immediately fix them still stands.

There are also more subtle expectations. Ones we may or may not be aware of in the beginning.  These expectations show up as disappointments and frustrations which lead to the collapse of the relationship.  We might try, unsuccessfully, to get what we need through indirect means.

Expectations are sneaky because they’re often something we’re not immediately aware of.  And even when we know our expectations, it can be hard to tell whether our expectation is reasonable or not.  Especially in the midst of an emotional reaction when feeling like our needs aren’t getting met.

When we’re in a situation for the first time, we don’t have context for other possibilities.  We may feel confused about whether our desires make sense, or why things look different than what we were envisioning.

Unrealistic expectation: Your coach can read your mind and know what you’re thinking.

Realistic expectation: Your work together serves your needs.

Communication in partnerships

Communicating your needs directly greatly improves the chances your needs will be met. In turn, having your needs met leads to higher satisfaction with the connection.

Failing of communication is another cause of a break in connection. This could look like not naming your truth when things don’t feel right or aren’t working for you. Or not slowing down when the heart of the matter isn’t being addressed.

There are many factors that can make communication challenging.

When you perceive your coach as the authority, it can make it difficult to communicate your needs.  You may feel pressure to go along with whatever they say because they know what’s best better than you.

While it’s true that you’re partnering with someone because they have an experience or expertise you don’t, you also have a right to autonomy.  Autonomy is the power of choice in making decisions.

Some types of services can be more flexible than others. 

Everyone has their own beliefs about how things work.  This brings us to the last reason: misalignment. 

Misalignment in partnerships

Sometimes a collaborative partnership just doesn’t work because there is a misalignment of values and core desires. We don’t agree on how to get from point A to point B. Our ideas of a good time are different. Our priorities don’t match up. Or our personalities jar on each other. Perhaps our expectations just can’t be met.

The right fit is crucial for any connection.

You might not identify the misalignment at first. Especially if you’re invested in a particular outcome and have your eyes on the results instead of what’s currently present relationally.

We might learn of a significant misalignment after a few days of working together or a few weeks. Disappointment and frustration can be prevented by learning of any misalignments early on in the connection.

Setting up for success with feedback channels

Combining self-awareness with communication may not fully prevent unmet expectations and misalignment, but goes a long way toward a better collaborative partnership.

In my work, there are things that are flexible. How do we use one-on-one session time, for one? Sometimes we use the entire session to talk through what’s coming up. Sometimes we go through somatic (body-based) exercises to unlock creativity and the inner voice. Sometimes we do a guided meditation. Sometimes we actively work on writing by breaking down steps to revise or generate new content.

The style of guided meditation is flexible. Some people want more time to hear their deeper selves and less guidance. Some prefer feeling into the body versus visualization, and vice versa. Some might prefer movement, others want to sink into stillness to access their heart. Feedback on the meditation style helps me tailor it for the individual client.

Trauma-informed and whole-person care involves pulling from a variety of tools in order to best support the client in any given moment.

Ways to incorporate feedback

I’ve been interested in incorporating ways of soliciting and providing feedback that feels safe, respectful, and kind to both give and receive.

What I’ve found is sometimes it’s easier to briefly verbally offer feedback at the end of a session.  Especially when writing feels too permanent, like once you write it, it’s always going to be there.  

And sometimes it’s easier to take your time and frame your feedback in words when you’re not feeling activated or nervous about upsetting someone.

I offer a feedback form that allows clients to share their experiences of a session so we can be on the same page.

What are your thoughts on creating conditions for success in collaborative partnerships? I’d love to hear from you — leave a comment and share your opinion.

About the Author

I help people reconnect to themselves and tell stories that make their souls sing.

I am a certified coach, writing mentor, writer, and group facilitator who enjoys helping people who’ve felt different to write from the heart.

Since 2008, I’ve worked with writers in every messy step of the creation process. I’m passionate about delving deep into the story underneath the story — the root cause of the struggle with self-expression — so you can feel good about the results.

For more, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list or explore how we can work together.

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