As humans, we maintain a wide range of relationships in our lives, from personal to professional. Relationships of any kind can have challenges and conflicts.
Even the happiest couples may need reminding that negotiation is essential for their long-term happiness. But how does a couple successfully negotiate their way into a healthy relationship?
Often, people in new romantic relationships feel so much in love they think their love will overcome all conflicts. At other times, couples might feel it is either too early or too late to discuss potential conflicts.
6 Tips To Negotiate Your Way To A Healthy Relationship
Most relationship conflicts can be avoided with open-ended dialogues. When there is a disagreement, a negotiation can result in the most mutually beneficial settlement.
As relationship experts in sales training can affirm, in most kinds of relationships, negotiation is a continuous process.
To build and sustain a happy relationship, here are 6 tips to negotiate your way through.
Negotiation Tip 1: Listen Actively
One of the most important skills you can train in for relationship-building is listening. Sharing your feelings and thoughts and responding favorably strengthens relationships.
When you listen, you improve your communication. It doesn’t matter if you’re finalizing a sale with a customer or forging intimacy between you and your romantic partner. Listening improves communication and leads to healthy, respectful, and fulfilling relationships.
Healthy relationships call for partners to actively listen to each other. Loving partners don’t just wait for their turn to speak. Instead, with empathy, they seek to understand their partner’s concerns.
Negotiation Tip 2: Accept Your Differences
Partners in a relationship usually feel drawn to each other when they share similarities, passions, and values. However, disregarding the differences between both partners can build into future conflict. Even the smallest details can build up over time into explosive bombs.
If one partner enjoys Hallmark movies while the other is into DC Comics, the difference may affect movie night choices. When you recognize and accept differences, you are better able to create mutually beneficial agreements.
When you ignore differences, one partner may end up dominating the decision-making. When only one partner almost always has their way at the expense of the other partner, this may lead to a buildup of frustrations and resentment.
Negotiation Tip 3: Do Not Compromise
Let’s look at two couples facing the same scenario on a weekend. The first couple wants to eat out tonight. One partner is in the mood for fine dining with a four-course continental meal while the other wants a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine.
The couple decides to order in Chinese because they are unable to persuade their partner of their choice of cuisine. After all, they both generally enjoy Chinese food.
The partners seem to have settled on a middle ground in which no one feels compelled to do something they don’t want to do. But neither of them is in the mood for Chinese tonight, so neither of them is pleased with the outcome.
The second couple is in a similar situation. However, they agree to a continental meal that night, and then Middle Eastern cuisine on their next dinner date.
The first is a compromise while the second is a negotiation. Whereas the couple who ate the Chinese might face the same dilemma next week, the negotiating couple will get to enjoy their respective picks across two successive weekends.
In a negotiation, each person can get what they want without trampling over the other. In a negotiated agreement, partners feel respected and that they have an equal say in decisions.
Negotiation Tip 4: Avoid The Abilene Paradox
Negotiation training experts often use the example of the Abilene paradox. This paradox points to an inability to manage agreement and conflict, so everyone avoids making objections.
The Abilene Paradox is a situation in which a group’s collective decision does not correspond to the feelings and thoughts of the individuals in the group. The phrase was coined by Jerry B. Harvey, Professor Emeritus of Management at George Washington University.
In the Abilene story, a family is comfortably playing dominoes on their porch in Coleman, Texas. The father-in-law suggests they go to Abilene (a 53-mile drive) for dinner. Everyone echoes in agreement.
It’s a long, dusty, and bumpy trip, to and fro. Plus, the food is terrible. When the family gets back, one person dishonestly remarks, “It was a wonderful trip, wasn’t it?” At this point, everyone grunts about how they would have preferred to remain on the porch and eat dinner at home.
The moral of the story is, you shouldn’t assume you’re doing something based on your partner’s preference. Don’t order Hawaiian pizza every Saturday night because you think that’s what your partner likes, even when you prefer pepperoni.
Instead, ask what your partner wants. You may be surprised they don’t even like any kind of pizza and have simply been going along with your plans every Saturday to make you happy. You’re both silently sacrificing to make your partner happy, yet neither of you is pleased with the choice.
Negotiation Tip 5: Find A Balance
In relationships, individuals typically face both their own and their partner’s desires. For instance, when buying a car, you may think, “I want a performance car, but my partner wants an SUV. Since I want my partner to be happy, I will buy the opposite of what I wanted and get the SUV.”
Training facilitators assure concessions in healthy relationships, whether in sales or other business matters or between family members or couples, are fine when done in moderation. Yet, making concessions all the time in favor of the other person’s preferences is usually not sustainable emotionally or otherwise.
Through negotiations, you get to make concessions that make your partner happy, and you receive concessions that make you happy. This give-and-take can strengthen bonds and motivate both partners to keep improving the balance in their healthy relationship.
Negotiation Tip 6: Do Not Keep Score
Making concessions is fine in maintaining healthy relationships. Though, if you give up one thing, don’t assume that your partner now owes you one. Such assumptions are likely to lead to miscommunication and long-term resentment.
If your partner doesn’t explicitly agree to owe you a return favor, you might feel blindsided when at the next negotiation they refuse to return your favor. For instance, if you do house chores this weekend, don’t assume your partner owes you house chores next weekend. You may either negotiate a fair trade or complete the tasks without expectations or resentments.
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Author Bio: Lee Washington is a marketing adviser by day, do-gooder by night. He has led teams to great success through effective digital marketing campaigns that connect new audiences with important information and opportunities for skill-building. Lee excels at crafting attention-grabbing messaging and has a clear strategic vision.
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