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Negotiation Strategies Especially for Couples
These guidelines will help you avoid the three most common negotiating mistakes couples make: 1) Failure to prepare before the negotiation with your partner; 2) Caving in too quickly to avoid tension or to keep the peace; and 3) Stubbornly pushing too hard for your own solution.
Why Learn to Negotiate with your Partner?
The Difference Between Negotiation For Couples and Other Negotiations
Skills Required For Negotiating With Your Partner
Some Things Cannot Be Negotiated
The Only Things You Can Really Negotiate Are Behavior And Decisions
How To Prepare To Negotiate
Before you start the negotiation, quietly reflect on the following questions:
What do I want? Why do I want it and why is it important?
How important is this to me?
You don't need to answer every question and complete every statement sequentially in a dialogue with your partner. But as you get mentally clear about these issues it will make it easier to conversationally express your concerns and desires.
Start By Stating the Area of Disagreement
State the disagreement in the form, "We seem to disagree about _______________."
Describe Concerns About the Subject
Avoid leading questions that sound like Perry Mason, "Did it ever occur to you that??"
One partner proposes a solution
The Rationale For This "Formula"
The Other Partner Responds
Remember - this negotiation is only an experiment. Nobody is locked into a permanent solution. It is only for a period of time to see what if anything needs adjusting.
Repeat suggestions until agreement is reached.
Round Two, Three, Etc.
Then repeat appropriate steps above.
Don't be discouraged if your first attempts at this new negotiation strategy are awkward. This is challenging territory for most couples. Keep trying, and you'll improve. If you'd like more help on the subject, consider attending the weekend couples' workshop "Coming from your Heart" to learn this approach along with a lot of other practical, innovative material for couples. It's definitely easier to learn when you see demonstrations and role-plays. You'd even get to practice with a therapist helping you stay on track.
Good luck, and may all your disagreements lead you to more lively collaboration.
Ellyn Bader, Ph.D., and her husband Dr. Peter Pearson, are founders of The Couples Institute in Menlo Park, CA. Authors, speakers, and therapists, they have been featured on over 50 radio and TV programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News." For information on, or to register for, workshops, visit The Couples Institute.
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