At work, in your neighborhood, and in your family, you may from time to time run into a dispute that matters. You may want to negotiate with the other party about solving the problem. My work consists of facilitating negotiations, so here are a few more tips.
10. Begin by asking for more than you want. This is my least favorite advice to give. It grates against my Quaker respect for honesty and integrity. Nevertheless, it often happens that successful negotiations require compromise. If you want $500 a month and you begin by asking for $500 a month, you will probably end getting $350 or $400 a month. If you want $500 a month and begin by asking for $700 a month, you can let the other party talk you down and still get what you want.
11. Make it easy for the other party to persuade you to give something up. Say what you want with all the details that would make the decision just perfect for you. Include some details that are not really very important to you. That makes it easy for the other person to see that you are settling for less than you would really like. If you are willing to compromise, they may also be willing to do so
12. Listen. This skill underlies several of my other suggestions. If, when the other person is talking, your brain is busy preparing your counter-argument, that may be counter-productive. Instead you can LISTEN. Then prove that you listened by repeating back the essence of what the other said to make sure that you understood it correctly. Doing that will often make the other person feel good about the discussion and be more willing to cooperate in resolving a problem.
13. Look for a Win-Win. Find out what is most important to the other party. See how close to that you are willing to go. Figure out what things are not really that important to you but matter to the other person, and give in on those. If you give a little or a lot, the other party may also be willing to do so. You can, if necessary, make your concessions contingent on theirs. Say that you are willing to settle for less of X if they will settle for less of Y.
14. Frame the issue as a problem you both need to solve. Fighting against each other about who gets the child when often has bad results. Cooperating with each other to figure out how to arrange schedules so that your child gets plenty of quality time with each parent is likely to produce a much better plan.
15. Have a plan for what to do if you get upset. If the other party is likely to push your hot buttons, think in advance about how you wil be able to calm yourself. Take a five-minute break and go meditate, smell the nearby roses, or do twenty push-ups -- whatever works for you.
This article is for informational purposes only. The author is a Professional Family Mediator certified by the Virginia Supreme Court. Additional information is available at http://fairfaxmediator.com.