It is something we do all our lives, with the most important people, for the things that truly matter but we are not taught it. We start negotiating as early as childhood – with our parents – about things like playtime, food habits, hanging out with friends, etc. Negotiation is required in every walk of life; as much, if not more, in our personal relationships as at work.
It does take the bees and butterflies out of all that we imagine when we think of love doesn’t it? But the truth is while love may happen magically, it works logically. Walking into a relationship starry eyed and assuming your partner will ‘get it’ is, frankly, not fair – to yourself or your partner. And that’s exactly where negotiation skills come in.
1. You need to know yourself well – Setting expectations is a big part of building understanding. And you can’t do this unless you understand yourself well and have the courage to express it with honesty.
2. You can’t set expectations right in one shot – Setting expectations and building understanding is a process. It’s not just alright but necessary to go back and revise expectations when something’s not working for you. If you’re not doing this, you need to ask yourself if your relationship is really evolving!
3. Your biggest challenge is to avoid judging – Being able to ask without guilt and listen without judging the other person is the greatest obstacle you will need to overcome. But once you break past this, what you feel is a warmth that is precious.
4. It is neither compromise nor adjustment – These words may work in a professional setting but are really quite limiting and uninspiring when it comes to relationships. We only ever negotiate in our relationships to enable greater happiness and acceptance for both parties. In truth, it’s very hard to tell who did less or more in a relationship and it frankly doesn’t matter.
Expressing our own needs and asking for what we want often entails negotiation. But if we shy away or ‘let it be’, it may do more harm than good – even prevent a relationship from growing.