I saw this article in the newspaper and thought I would share it with you. It is full of great information. How to negotiate with your family!
We apply our negotiation skills with our family members every day. While we don't consider these formal "negotiations" like in business, many experts, view the process broadly as including any communications in which parties attempt to satisfy mutual interests. So what strategies work effectively in the family context?
Remember the long term relationship.
Avoid competitive, hard nosed brinksmanship negotiations. Instead, remember you want to spend the rest of your life in close proximity with this person. If you think you might regret making a certain statement, don't do it. And if the temperature in the room gets too hot and you or your family member appear ready to lose your cool, institute a cooling-off period.
Listen, understand, and be present.
Don't underestimate the value of just listening and understanding. When my wife describes a problem to me, my instinct is to try to solve it. But as my wife will often remind me, that may not be what she wants or needs. Instead, she may need you to simply listen and empathize.
Dig deep for the true interests involved.
In "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen, the authors distinguish between three "conversations" within every difficult communication: the "what happened" conversation, the "feelings" conversation, and the "identify" conversation.
In the what-happened conversation parties often focus on what happened and discuss it in terms of "who's right, who meant what, and who's to blame." The problem is that focusing on right and wrong, assuming what someone "really" intended, and playing the blame game, frequently leads everyone down a negative path. Alternatively, the authors suggests we explore our perceptions, interpretations, and values underlying the issues, stop assuming we know the others intentions, and focus on how to avoid other future problems.
Identify the feelings and emotions involved.
How many of your most difficult family discussions were really about anger, disappointment, shame or some other feeling or emotion? In "Difficult Conversations" the authors suggest you address these by identifying everyone's feelings and seeking to better understand them. Ask, "how do we feel about this and why?" Then explore these in a non-threatening way.
Find and use objective standards
A great way to lower the emotional level in many negotiations, especially highly charged family ones, is to find an objective standard that can lead to an mutually acceptable solution. Standards that work well here, especially with kids, include precedent (your older brother received the same allowance), policy (everyone must finish their vegetables before leaving the table) and expert opinion (the dentist told you to brush your teeth after every meal if you want healthy teeth).
Of course, expect your kids to start using these with you, too!
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*Article written by Marty Latz