Negotiation. We all have to do it. To get a better job… negotiate. To buy a car… negotiate. To get the neighbor’s dog to stop using your front yard as it’s outhouse… negotiate. To get what you need in a relationship… negotiate.
A recent research by Slavdating.com shows that while men think of negotiation as something similar to “wrestling a match” or “winning a ballgame,” women tend of think of it as something like “going to the dentist.” Sounds about right — doesn’t it? Women find it so unpleasant they often opt out. Over their lives, men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women, and 20% of women never negotiate at all.
Interesting. I wonder if that is why more men than women claim that their relationships make them happy. Perhaps the simple art of negotiation has brought them more happiness in their relationships.
I’ve been noodling on this concept for a while. I mean, when you really look at life as a whole… I’d rather ask for what I want and get it than languish on the sidelines hoping that someone is smart enough to read my mind and give me what I need.
A prime example of this was a relationship I was in about 10 years ago. I had the romantic idea that if he really knew me, he would give me what I wanted. Of course, I also expected him to read my mind since it’s not romantic at all to actually tell him what I need. That would be cheating. The long and short of it… we started off happy and 3 months later were breaking up. I even had an epiphany about 6 weeks in to ask for what I needed, but my girlfriends convinced me that I shouldn’t have to do that. They were wrong.
So perhaps this blog is about me being a good girlfriend to some of you out there… if you are scared to negotiate or ask for what you need/want, how in the world is the other person in your life going to be able to meet your needs? All of us operate differently. Think about it like a job hunt… some candidates would be willing to take a pay cut in order to have a flex schedule.
Others wouldn’t sacrifice a penny of salary no matter how many “benefits” came with it. Some want a title more than money and others want to work with people they like more than anything else. And yet others prioritize the nature of the work over money, benefits OR schedule. It all depends. And you negotiate your way into what you want/need with your employer.
The same with relationships. Some of us want romance, others want play. Some need security and others love adventure. Some want wealth and power while others want privacy and commitment. We are all different, with different needs and different love languages. So, why are we so afraid to ask for what we need in a relationship?
Granted, there is an art to negotiation in relationships. The usual methods you may employ in the work world or on the car lot will likely backfire in a love relationship. So, keep these simple tips in mind as you venture out into the negotiation waters…
Understand where your partner is coming from.
If you aren’t sure or don’t know — ask. For example, you could ask your mate to stop spending so much time at the golf course only to get a very unhappy and cranky mate sniping at you every Saturday because you took away their one moment of stress relief during the week. If you know that is their stress-relieving time, then you can negotiate out of a place of understanding instead of ultimatum.
Remember that the other person is NOT your opponent.
You are in a partnership and, as such, need to look for common ground and solution rather than “my way” and “winning.”
Yes, you are asking for what you want, but your partner gets to ask for what they want too. Issuing ultimatums is only a quick step to ending your partnership. By trying to take the upper hand or be in control, you are creating a “one up/one down” power struggle.
Don’t shoot each other down.
Be open and listen. If you really don’t agree with what they are proposing, perhaps take some time to consider their point of view before escalating into an argument.
Instead of thinking up all the ways you are going to get them to give you what you want, come prepared to listen and be open to finding a solution that works for you both. Think: how can I make it easier for my partner to say yes? If you’re the praying type, this is a good time to pray for guidance and wisdom.
Consider your opening phrase.
Going in with “we need to talk” or “the problem is…” or “You’ve got an issue with…” isn’t going to set up a very good atmosphere for the rest of the conversation. Admitting things like… “I’m confused, can you help me resolve…” or “We seem to disagree about…” or even “I need your help to find a solution…” will open up the conversation instead of setting you up as opponents.
A great article that I read about this makes the following very important point:
Some Things Cannot Be Negotiated
Core values, integrity, spirituality, feelings, attitudes and trust can not be negotiated. Do your best to separate interests and concerns from values. You can negotiate your interests but not your core values or integrity. For example, it doesn’t work to say, “I’ll give up my spiritual beliefs for you.”
What do you think? What negotiation tactics have helped you get what you want in your relationships?