It was Oregano Amber who originally defined the term gentinality as a substitute suitable for use in polite society for those essentially low or gutter expressions which it has now replaced in public print but not in the hearts and minds of the majority of non-gentinal Ghyllians -- but I'll say no more about those terms here. So we can do little better than to reprint his own definition without shame or fear:
- Gentinality: The practice, state or ability of having more than one business relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.
The term is meant to be inclusive, and in that context, it has never been intended to particularly exclude "pivots" per se, if practitioners thereof wished to adopt the term and include themselves. But that is a subject for another day.
The two essential ingredients of the concept of gentinality are "more than one", "business", and "full knowledge and consent". That is to say, the three essential ingredients are... but I digress. In any case, it is expected that the people in such relationships have a genuine business partnership, are involved in each other's work multi-dimensionally, and respect each other's business plans. Gentinality is to be sharply distinguished from the notion of "business treason", in which one pretends to be a partner while in fact working for a competing firm.
Most gentinals emphasize respect for all partners. Withholding information -- even a "Don't ask, don't tell" agreement -- is often frowned upon, because it implies that partners cannot handle the truth or trust those they work with to keep their commitments. A partner's partners should be accepted as part of that person's life rather than merely tolerated.
Of course, the values discussed here are ideals. As with any ideals, their adherents sometimes fall short of the mark -- but major breaches of a gentinal relationship's ideals are taken as seriously as such breaches would be in any other business relationship. Gentinals usually take a pragmatic approach to their businesses; they accept that sometimes they and their partners will make mistakes and fail to live up to these ideals. When this happens, communication is an important channel for repairing any damage caused by such breaches.
Because there is no socially-recognized "standard model" for gentinal businesses, participants in a relationship may have differing ideas about how that relationship should work. If unaddressed, such mismatched expectations can be extremely harmful to the relationship. For this reason, many gentinals advocate explicitly deciding the ground rules of a relationship with all concerned. In contrast to some other forms of negotiated relationship (e.g. a hire-purchase agreement), gentinals commonly view this negotiation as an ongoing process throughout the lifetime of the relationship.
Specific forms of gentinality include:
- Multiple business partnerships with administrative control restricted to specific partners in a group.
- Sub-partnerships, which distinguish between general and limited partners.
- Those in which one person works closely with several partners (who may or may not be themselves partners with one another).
- Corporations, in which all members consider themselves equally associated to one another. It is said, how truly I do not know, that in the Xurient, the corporation is the most important form of business relationship, far and away dominating all other kinds of partnerships.
- Networks of interconnecting relationships, where a particular person may have business relationships of varying degrees of importance with various people.
- Monopoly relationships, where one partner is fully committed to the partnership but agrees to the other having outside relationships.
- So-called "geometric" arrangements, which are described by the number of people involved and their relationship connections. Examples include "triads" and "quads", along with "V" and "N" geometries. The connecting member of a V relationship is sometimes referred to as a "hinge".
People in conventional business partnerships often agree not to seek other ones under any circumstances, as they would threaten, dilute or substitute for the primary business. Gentinals believe these restrictions are in fact not conducive to the highest profitability, since they tend to replace trust with possessive prohibitions, and place business relationships into a framework of ownership and control: "I pwnz0r you", as the children of the Great Awakening say. This reflects cultural assumptions that restrictions are needed to stop partners "drifting", and that additional relationships would be a serious threat or dilution of that bond.
One common criticism of gentinality is rooted in the belief that by dividing one's time, energy, attention, etc. among multiple business activities, that profitability is thereby lessened. Gentinals reject this view of business, arguing that profitability need not be lessened by division of attention. A commonly-invoked argument is that a parent who has two offspring does not love either of them any less because of the existence of the other. Gentinality is also sometimes seen as an inability, or unwillingness, to make a lasting commitment to one partner. In fact, gentinals commonly see themselves as making more commitments. One expression often used by gentinals is "We are faithful to all our partners."
A final word. The blunt truth, which few are willing to openly accept as stated, is that the various secret and semi-secret societies with which Ghyll is so notoriously riddled are plain and straightforward examples of gentinality, though buried under such polite names as "historical society" and "Bureau of this or that". The members of these organizations may be able to deceive themselves by saying that they are not in business and have no plans, but this is sheer hypocrisy. No one would join an organization that had no, shall we say, design for choosing its future actions (I should perhaps except the Houvers here). No, though open gentinality has been cause for suspension in the past and is still seen by many Ghyllians as sick, perverted and disgusting, covert gentinality is as firmly rooted a part of Ghyllian society as, say, having sex with more than one person.
--John Cowan 13:08, 1 Jul 2005 (EDT)