The 60/40 Rule for Improving Relationships

By Greg Nathan posted October 14, 2022
Tip #241: The 60/40 Rule for improving relationships

A few weeks ago, I attended the wedding of my nephew. It was a beautiful event held in the forest on a mountain top near my brother’s home. As we waited excitedly for the bride to arrive, classical music from a violinist and cellist seated under a gum tree, floated amongst us on the warm spring breeze.

The ceremony took place on the verandah of a small cabin my nephew and brother had built together over the previous year. It was a project that they both joked had tested and strengthened their relationship.

Challenging projects tend to do that. For those of you reading this who have been married, you will know that marriage can also be a challenging project that can test and strengthen a relationship.

Later that evening, in a moving speech under the stars, my brother shared the 60/40 Rule with his newly married son and daughter-in-law. It’s something our father had often talked to us about when we were growing up, and what he attributed as the secret to his own successful marriage of 63 years.

Here’s how my brother explained it. 

“Dad had a 60/40 Rule, which is that in a successful relationship, both parties need to go to 60% of the way. If you both just go to 50%, you won’t move forward. But when you put in that little bit extra, and go to 60% for a friend or a family member, and they go 60%, together you’ve got 120%. And that’s what moves a relationship forward.”

He went on to say that, while it may sound simplistic, it works. I couldn’t agree more.

The 60/40 Rule can be applied to all interdependent relationships. These are the relationships that we can’t just walk away from when things are tough or inconvenient. They include marriage, family relationships and all types of business partnerships, including the franchise relationship. I have noticed repeatedly over the years that when franchisor team members and franchisees each do that little bit extra to help each other out, everyone benefits and working relationships improve.

This principle of giving a little more than we take was also reinforced through my experience as a Boy Scout when we would regularly go camping. “Always leave the environment a little better than you found it” was the mantra repeated by my scoutmasters - another form of the 60/40 Rule in practice. While transactional relationships, where both parties just do what’s required to fulfill their obligations, may get the job done, they are seldom fulfilling. The 60/40 Rule reminds us that, to experience the magic of a great relationship with that wonderful sense of progress and fulfilment, (and isn’t that what we all want from our relationships), both parties need to go that little bit extra.

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