In healthy relationships, partners can talk through disagreements and find solutions that feel good to each of them. A sense of trust that your partner is on your side even when the two of you don’t see eye to eye is essential. Since greaterself-disclosure is required in a relationship than in other forms of negotiations, it is necessary that a foundation of trust exists so that each of you can feel safe enough to take emotional risks. It is vital that you work as a couple to understand each other and the feelings, emotions and fears that drive each of your behavior before moving to negotiation when a difficult issue arises. In this case, effective negotiation skills are essential if you and your partner want to make solid decisions that you both feel good about. Strong negotiation skills will help you navigate through conflict and strengthen your relationship.
Negotiation is not the act of making another person wrong; it is an exploration of each partner’s position with the ideal goal of finding a mutually acceptable solution. The benefit of negotiation is that it will give both of you as much of what you want as possible, while creating a structure in which you can find solutions and learn about how to compromise and communicate effectively.
Many people avoid conflict because they lack negotiation skills. This kind of avoidance will only lead to resentment, which will ultimately lead to more distance in your relationship. Healthy relationships exist when two people know how to resolve their differences in a mutually satisfying manner; negotiation is the healthy way to create this kind of resolution.
Qualities required for effective negotiation:
- Trusting that your point of view will be heard
- Respect for your partner and yourself
- Openness and honesty
- Curiosity about your partner’s part in the struggle
- Motivation to listen to your partner’s point of view
- Willingness to express your own view
- Listening with kindness and not interrupting
- Motivation to find a solution that is mutually satisfying
Preparing For a Negotiation
Common mistakes that couples make arise when one partner agrees to the negotiation to avoid tension (or to keep the peace) or conversely pushes too hard to rally for his or her own solution. Sometimes the fear of disrupting the dynamics of the relationship, reprisal from a partner, or fear of offending a partner will stop one of the partners from entering a negotiation. By learning how to prepare for a negotiation, you and your spouse can begin to create the successful foundation for a resolution of a problem.
Here are some questions to help you prepare for negotiations:
- What is the most effective behavior you can bring to the negotiation? Do you want to be calm, open, honest, curious, kind, flexible?
- What outcome do you each want from the negotiation?
- How important is this outcome to you?
- Where are you willing to compromise and what are you absolutely unwilling to concede?
- If an agreement isn’t be reached, what alternatives do you have? Are these good or bad?
- How important to you is it if you don’t reach an agreement?
Taking the time to set the proper stage for a negotiation will go a long way in your success. Too often couples rush to get to a solution and don’t lay the framework of trust and safety first. Learning effective negotiation skills requires patience. The payoff, however, is a loving relationship where you and your partner will feel honored and listened to. By learning how to successfully negotiate with one another, the intimacy and trust in your relationship will improve. You and your partner will truly be able to face all the challenges that come your way. Work as a team. Respect one another’s feelings and listen to each other’s suggestions. With a little practice, the two of you can become better at negotiating so that you can experience more joy and love in your relationship and leave the hurt behind.