Learn Proper Negotiation, Part 2

How can you transform yourself from an argumentative individual to a powerful negotiator?

Modern society seems to think that the art of negotiation is only needed in corporate boardroom meetings and business deals. This is a completely false notion of negotiation because everyone will actually benefit from knowing how to negotiate properly.

If you have a rocky marriage but still want to make it work, you definitely need to learn how to negotiate with your spouse. Negotiation is not about showing someone “who’s boss,” but rather, it’s acknowledging that it takes two to tango and you both need fair treatment.

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Fair treatment is not something that you will easily find in crumbling marriages. But hold on – can you actually bring fairness back to a relationship just by practicing proper negotiation? The answer is a resounding yes!

Is negotiation complicated?

Negotiation is definitely not advanced physics! You don’t need a complicated degree in business to know the essentials of proper negotiation. Negotiation is simply a way of communicating opposing views with the clear objective of creating a stable ground for solutions and compromise.

If you don’t see negotiation this way, you’re not interesting in negotiating at all! You’re probably interested in fully controlling the situation and just getting what you want from your spouse. This is very destructive behavior and if you’re guilty of such behavior, you have to stop it right now.

Such controlling behavior is one of the key reasons why many people just give up on ever reaching an agreement with their spouses on important matters. What happens is that they leave major issues unresolved and these issues have a tendency to come back and haunt both parties at some point in the future.

How can you negotiate more effectively?

I’ve already shared a few tips in our last blog post – but I’ve saved the best for last. Don’t forget to write down notes in your journal!

1. Shine a Light on Interests – Successful negotiation requires both parties to be aware of individual interests that are floating on the negotiation table. Remember: individual interests are different from positions:

Here are some examples:

Your interest: Visiting mom over the weekend.

Your spouse’s interest: Stay at home and relax, maybe play some video games.

Common interest: To keep the peace in the family and stay harmonious with each other

When individual interests have been identified, the next step is to find a tentative solution and finally, a final solution that is mutually beneficial to both parties. It is simply not possible to reach a mutually beneficial solution without knowing the interests of both parties.

When both parties agree on a solution, that would be the time that the married couple would have a unified position.

Do you now see why you can’t negotiate with a fixed position in mind?

When a person begins a negotiation with his own position, the natural tendency of the other party would be to defend his position.

What’s the common result?

Probably a heated argument over who is more reasonable or correct.

You don’t want more arguments to sully your relationship, so please follow the proper negotiation process to avoid sparking an argument with your spouse.

2. Be a Flexible and Reasonable Negotiator – In a previous blog post, I discussed the importance of discarding distorted mental frames.

One of these mental frames is the “black and white” state of mind wherein a person is unable to go beyond essentialist dichotomies such as “good and bad” or “reasonable and unreasonable”.

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A good negotiator is never encumbered by narrow mental frames. You have to make a conscious effort to be logical yet flexible while negotiating with your spouse.

This might seem like a tall order, but in the long term, this will greatly improve your chances of succeeding with negotiations. If you begin with the assumption that you’re right and your spouse has always been wrong, you can be sure that your negotiation will go up in flames.

3. Mutual Benefits Are Important – It is unfortunate that humans have a somewhat selfish streak when it comes to seeking solutions on the negotiation table.

However, I counsel all troubled couples to seek different types of solutions that will be ultimately beneficial to both parties, not just one.

In many situations, problems have more than one viable solution. Allow your spouse to present his/her solutions so you will both have more than one solution to ponder.

If you focus too much on your solution, your spouse may feel like he/she doesn’t have a say in the relationship. This can easily turn a relationship cold and ultimately, toxic to both parties.

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