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How to Negotiate in a Relationship Without Hurting Each Other

How to Negotiate in a Relationship Without Hurting Each Other

Compromise is hard. Whether you have a hard time with it because you are an only child, or because you just hate to make sacrifices, compromise is hard. When it comes to relationship, it is inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any less daunting.

When you have unhealthy compromise, one person feels like they are the only one having to sacrifice something, and this one-sided relationship can cause so much resentment and anger that the relationship can’t survive. Therefore, it’s vital to know how to navigate compromise as a team so that everyone feels like it’s handled fairly.

Couples compromise when it comes to job changes, moving, even deciding what color to paint the kitchen. Some compromises are small and some seem ominously huge, but they are all equally important in ensuring each side feels valued. [1]

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It would be nice to think we are all selfless. But it’s not the truth.

At its core, compromise is hard because it means one person in the relationship is probably not going to get what they want. This means they are giving up their desires for the other person. While it would be nice to think we are all so selfless, the truth is it’s hard to give things up when we want them. Sometimes, we get so caught up in getting what we want, that we don’t realize how unwilling we are to compromise. This typically leads our partner to do the majority of sacrificing which can cause some big resentment issues [2].

Sometimes compromise isn’t easy to spot. Take for example a married couple who is deciding what to do for a date night. The wife wants to stay in because she is stressed from work and just wants to read quietly in bed. The husband wants to go see a movie in an attempt to have a date night. Wife is frustrated at this last minute recommendation but she chooses to say yes to avoid hurting his feelings. However, unbeknownst to the Wife, the Husband didn’t want to see a movie either. Instead, he just wanted to find some way to spend time with his wife, as he is feeling disconnected.

They both compromised, but neither of them know it because they didn’t voice their inner thoughts [3]. Though this may seem like a silly problem, the truth is that both of them now feel misunderstood by the other and maybe even disrespected.

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The Wife was distracted throughout the whole movie, thinking about what she needed to do at work the next day, and the Husband was sad she wasn’t more romantic with him. After all, he wanted a date with his wife. Wouldn’t most wives be grateful for that attention? Maybe, but that’s only if the communication was strong enough that both of them understood what the other truly wanted and why.

When you can negotiate and reach a compromise, your relationship grows

Healthy compromise helps you and your partner be your best selves. You both choose, at some point, a temporary discomfort in order to achieve a shared goal. This leads to a stronger relationship, as you are both doing what’s best for the other. If you feel taken advantage of, or like you are the only one compromising, that’s a problem. It should be about you two and your future. Not just your partner.

How to Compromise

Keep it equal.

Yes, compromise means one of you isn’t getting their way, but it shouldn’t make you hurt or angry. Before you request a compromise or ask your partner to give something up, consider what you are offering in return. This shouldn’t be a bribe, but rather a way to ensure you are both making changes.

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Don’t try to compromise if you’re mad.

Think about the last big argument you had with your partner or spouse. Did anything positive or productive come from it? Probably not. Compromise is no different. Only discuss it when you’re feeling open-minded and calm. You want a discussion, not a fight. Compromise produced during resentment will only wreck the relationship.

Don’t compromise the important things.

Remember, compromise should benefit you both in the long run. If the compromise on the table involves one of you giving up a dream, family, friendship, or career, take a step back. Assuming none of these things are somehow toxic to the relationship, you should never feel like you have to lose a part of who you are to help you partner. Growing and changing in a relationship is great. Becoming a different, unrecognizable person with no dreams or happiness? Not OK.

Keep it fair.

To keep a relationship functioning, remember that compromise can’t mean one of you has to roll over. Take this example [4] , “If you move to the city, you might have an easier commute and be happier in the fast-paced lifestyle. But will your spouse’s commute double? Will he or she be put out by the frenetic life? Is that fair to him or her?” If it doesn’t seem fair, you need to reach a true compromise that does. Otherwise, you are just being disrespectful.

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Don’t waffle!

Waffling means you’re going back and forth on something. This is everyone’s biggest pet peeve. If you’ve made a decision and you and your spouse have agreed on it, don’t change your mind. If you come back to the conversation with a whole new opinion, not only does it make you seem wishy-washy in the relationship, but it becomes challenging for your spouse to view you as a stable partner. If you have made a decision, stick with it.

Summary

In summary, remember that compromise is a part of love. It can be challenging, frustrating and sometimes feel impossible, but remember that everyone does it. If you feel like you’re having a hard time compromising, it doesn’t mean you and your partner should break up or seek counselling right away, but it does mean the two of you need to sit down and figure out what is keeping you from being successful.

It could help to make a list of what you are having a hard time compromising about and see if there’s a common thread. If all of the elements make you feel like you’re giving up your identify, then that’s a problem. But if it’s a matter of refusing to change, then you need to do some introspection and figure out how to overcome that.

You should always feel like the compromise is equal; you and your partner should always have to give and take, not just one of you. The idea of compromising is that it brings you both happiness and security in the long run, not just instant gratification. This often means one of you may be temporarily disappointed, but that’s OK. And if you feel like you can’t get it right and the compromise is not coming easily after trying, don’t be afraid to seek counselling. Compromise is important, and it’s worth getting help if it means saving the relationship.

Featured photo credit: Sweet Ice Cream Photography via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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