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Learning Proper Negotiation, Part 1

How can you use the art of negotiation to improve your married life and put an end to fruitless arguments?

Learning how to negotiate is an essential skill if you want to reverse the downward spiral that started when arguments began taking over your relationships.

The big difference between a negotiation and an argument is that negotiation aims to produce a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties involved. Arguing on the other hand, is more focused on dominating and controlling the other party.

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Fair negotiation requires effort, patience and most of all – love!

There’s a big difference between the two, so don’t believe that you’re “good at negotiation” if you often resort to intimidation or raking up old history to “win” an argument.

Truth be told, no one really wins arguments in married relationships because, invariably, arguments produce emotional baggage that can affect both parties for months, or even years.

How can you become a persuasive but fair negotiator?

Negotiation doesn’t have to be complicated or overly complex. You don’t have to be too analytical to create great outcomes when negotiating with your spouse.

Here are some essential guidelines that will easily help you become a master negotiator:

1. Stand Ready for Conflict – The presence of conflict is normal in any relationship, especially in intimate relationships.

When two people make a mutual decision to commit to an exclusive relationship and they begin investing different types of resources to make the relationship meaningful and viable, both individuals feel entitled to certain things within the relationship.

When opposing needs, desires, beliefs and values collide, is when conflict arises. Don’t worry – as long as you don’t make conflicts the focal point of your marriage, your marriage still has a fighting chance to recover fully!

2. Keep it Clean – When two people talk about their differing opinions it’s also normal to feel like you’re entering a battlefield and the other party is the enemy.

If you feel this way when conversing with your spouse, identify the exact moment when you feel this way and do something to change it. Negotiation is not about fighting, dominating or abusing the other party.

Negotiation, more than anything, is an acknowledgement of “fair footing” within the relationship. When two parties are on equal ground and make a mutual decision to treat each other fairly, compromise and mutually beneficial solutions are created more easily.

3. Negotiate Only When Needed – Negotiation requires a lot of time, energy and patience so don’t open a negotiation if you’re not dealing with a significant problem within the relationship.

For example, if your spouse likes playing heavy metal music while driving three hours to his in-laws, you can probably get good results by just talking to your husband about your heavy metal-associated headaches.

However, if your finances are suffering because your spouse refuses to work, that would be the perfect scenario to start a negotiation as soon as possible.

4. Leave Emotions at the Door, Please – If you’ve been following my blog posts thus far, you may have already picked up a few lessons about the negative impact of raw emotions in an intimate relationship.

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Raw emotions have absolutely no place in a negotiation. There is no alternative; you either have to “leave them at the door” or don’t negotiate just yet. Don’t try to negotiate when emotions are running high or you feel too hurt to even talk properly.

If you want to become a good negotiator, you simply have to express your needs and concerns in a way that doesn’t dominate or emotionally harm the other party.

Again, this can be quite challenging as people have a general desire to “get back” at their spouses for actual, or imagined, slights. Because of this natural tendency, you have to practice a very high level of restraint to ensure that your emotions will not get in the way of the actual negotiation.

What should you do if your spouse is too emotional?

Don’t use your spouse’s emotional outbursts as a weapon against him/her. Do your best to calm your spouse down or inform him/her that you will not talk unless there’s peace on the table. Sometimes, negotiating another day is a much better choice than trying to negotiate with someone who is too angry or frustrated to think straight.

If you hear things like “I’m so mad at you I’m seeing red”, it would probably best to talk to your spouse another time.

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