Hopefully you’ve read all the blogs this week on negotiation because this is what it’s been leading up to. These are my personal rules on how to negotiate an argument.
- Before they are needed, set rules regarding how a negotiation will proceed. I suggest three steps: initial conversation, time to think things over, and the negotiation.
- In every disagreement there is a point where you can feel the anger welling up and the disagreement is about to become a fight. Recognize when you’ve reached this point and step away.
- Think carefully about why you’re angry and what you really want out of the situation. Do your homework.
- Wait until you can reasonably and rationally talk about the situation, why you are angry, and what you need to happen for the situation to be resolved.
- Approach your partner and ask for a few moments to speak. Let them know that they don’t need to respond immediately and that you’d prefer if they took some time to think things over before responding. They are allowed to respond in their own time but not so long that the issue gets dropped without being resolved.
- Initial conversation: Removing as much emotion as possible, use “I” language to explain how you feel (When you do X, I feel Y). Avoid blaming or inflammatory language. Explain what you need to happen to resolve the situation. Be specific and use examples if possible.
- Time to think it over: Give your partner space and time to ruminate on what you’ve just told him. He may disagree with your solution and may decide to come up with an alternate one. In the beginning and with bigger issues, this may take a few days. With practice, the amount of time needed to think it over will decrease. Do not ever expect an immediate response.
- The negotiation: Negotiate in good faith until both parties have reached a conclusion they can live with. If the solution is multi-step or will occur at a future date, put it in writing. Both of you should walk away from the negotiation feeling as though a fair and equitable solution has been reached.
- Use positive reinforcement when the solution does occur. If the solution is to be maintained, use a gentle correction if and when slips occur.