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Collaboration and the Science of Partner Connection
May 26, 2016
Collaboration and the Science of Partner Connection



A leading premise that has gone into the development of Allbound is that suppliers experience underperforming channel sales because they are suffering from a partnering problem. Many existing partnerships simply don’t work because suppliers and resellers aren’t finding ways to work together. Technology can be used to restore the pillars of partnership, but it has to address the underlying issues in order for it to be effective.

Those underlying issues go far deeper than sales skills, content marketing or MDF programs. They are rooted in neuroscience and the intricacies of the human condition that allow people to form and build collaborative, trusting relationships. When it comes to the science of connection, I’m no expert. But, I’ve partnered with someone who is. My life partner and wife, Therese, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and owner of Peaceful Mind Counseling Services. While she hasn’t always realized that the psychological insights she shares with me make their way into my work as a marketer, she was aware her expertise would be the center of this blog post.

Why is connection so important to the human condition?

From the point of birth, we’re wired neurologically for connection. In our brains there are different hormones and neurotransmitters that get released when we are connecting with other people. That release sends signals to the brain that essentially create positive feelings. Connection is very important to us as humans from the second we are born.

Why is connection so important for development?

Connection with others supports bonding and attachment. When we are infants, we immediately bond and attach to a caregiver. Healthy attachment and connection with others supports the release of pleasure hormones like oxytocin. It creates positive feelings of warmness, comfort and security. Our brains literally get rewarded for connection with our early caregivers.

How does connection influence relationships as we get older?

The early need for connection and attachment doesn’t go away as we get older. To thrive, humans need to possess a sense of belonging among others. As children we get that from caregivers. As adults, we can get that from friendships, partners, our community and having interactions within personal and professional groups. That sort of connection gives us a sense of purpose and belonging. We feel like we can contribute, we feel seen and noticed.

What types of interactions help form the neuroscience that supports connection?

Interactions that include empathy supports connection and attachment. When we have empathic interactions with each other, we feel understood and heard. I can imagine the smirks my next comment will create, but people have a biological human need to have the sense of being ‘felt’ by someone, which is what empathy provides. Whether its friends, family or business associates, successful relationships require there to be a felt sense of your experience so that any feedback or collaboration can appear to be authentic.

When can connection fail?

Disconnection is caused when we don’t have direct and open communication. Interactions can’t be static or faceless. There has to be a sense that there is a human on the other side. This is particularly a problem in business where people want to work in silos, or tell people what they need to do without having open dialogue and engagement.

Can technology support connection?

Yes and no. Technology links people together, but it doesn’t help them connect. Connection or disconnection happens in the interaction that takes place between the humans. Verbal communication is crucial to relationship. Online interactions that involve dialogue and feedback are helpful. Vulnerability is required to create openness for that connection to happen. Technology can’t be vulnerable – only humans can.

You also have to be present with others in those interactions. When you are truly present it supports meaningful interaction.

What’s the impact of interactions – in person or online – that create genuine connection?

Trust. I’ll save you some of the neuro-speak, but it’s possible for us to read the attachment patterns of others. In business, any injury that results in disconnection results in broken trust. For example, if you provided a product and there was an issue that you didn’t communicate about in a vulnerable, open and accountable way, there is immediate disconnection. That can be difficult to rebuild and repair unless there is an environment that represents a safe and open place to reconnect. When we have honest, empathic connections, collaboration in business and personal relationships will thrive with an extra bonus of feeling good, too.

So how does all of this apply back to partner sales acceleration? Here’s my take:

Effective partnerships require openness to connect. There are clear aspects of being human that support the formation of healthy relationships, which in-turn allow us to work with others in an open and effective way. Collaborative interactions that support connection, belonging and purpose can solidify those relationships. Technology can play a role, but it has to provide a means for you to be present to your partners in a way that allows them to be supported, heard and helped.

Collaboration, connection and trust create relationships. Without a relationship you can’t have a worthwhile partnership.

Ali Spiric