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7 Things I Didn’t Realize I Was Doing Wrong Trying To Be A Good Wife

7 Things I Didn’t Realize I Was Doing Wrong Trying To Be A Good Wife

Being in a committed relationship is a big deal – for me, at least. I’ve always been very independent, so when I met my future husband, it seemed like it was my first relationship, even though we’d been dating since high school. Those relationships seemed like child’s play compared to the commitment we shared, so I had to learn a lot about what I’d done in previous relationships, and what I’d done on my own, and why it wouldn’t work in a marriage. As a result, I found there were quite a few things I was doing wrong trying to be a good wife.

1. I thought my husband’s happiness was my responsibility.

I know everyone has to be happy with themselves, I really do. But when you’re in such a serious, committed relationship, it’s easy to feel responsible for the other person. Because when he’s around me, all his troubles should fade away, right? Wrong! I had to stop and think, “OK, when I’m cranky, does being around someone else automatically make me better? No.” So why was I expecting myself to be that magic potion for him? Just because he’s unhappy or cranky or angry doesn’t mean I did anything wrong, and it doesn’t mean I have to “fix” him. In fact, sometimes when I try to smooth over an issue, he’ll ask me to stop because he needs time to be angry and blow off steam. I had to learn to step back and let him handle his own emotions, and take myself out of that equation.

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2. I wasn’t confronting the issues.

It was too easy to think life was happier if the dust was just shoved under the rug. In reality, that made me angrier about small things because I wasn’t bringing them to my spouse’s attention. Once I started bringing up issues I had, I realized he had done the same thing! We had hidden a variety of problems from each other because we wanted the relationship to always seem happy and smooth. Truthfully, no relationship is like that. We all have problems and part of the joy of marriage is knowing you have a partner who will help you through tough times. After we started sharing every problem, big or small, it was so much easier to deal with daily life, even when there were no problems! We started talking more about positive things and stuff we had done during the day, too, so confronting problems actually opened up our conversations!

3. I was doing all of the domestic work.

I’ve lived on my own most of my adult life; even with roommates, you’re still responsible for your own chores. As a result, I always think I need to do everything myself. I wash my own dishes, I do my own laundry, I take the trash can to the curb on pick-up day. In reality, this isn’t how it should be. When you’re married, you’re in a partnership, and both people need to take responsibility for what needs to be done. After we talked about it, I found my husband actually wanted to do some of these chores! He wanted to feel needed, and he didn’t think of household chores as “woman’s work.” Now he is in charge of doing the laundry every week, taking care of the yard, putting out the trash, and washing the dishes on alternating nights. He also likes cooking and grilling dinners! It’s such a load off my shoulders knowing not only do I have someone to help juggle these chores, but he actually wants to do so.

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4. I was always saying yes.

My husband loves art and painting, and would often ask me to paint with him. I was flattered because to say I’m not very artistic is being generous, and I love doing things with him – especially collaborating on something he loved that might hang in our home. But the more he asked me to do this with him, the more I realized it was taking away my free time. I didn’t have as much time to read or write as I used to, and as a result I felt more stressed because I wasn’t getting my creative outlet. Same as when I stopped say yes every time he wanted company to run an errand. Sometimes you just need to hold your ground and say no to something, even if it’s not a major issue. Did it hurt me to take time to paint with him, or run to the store with him? No, but it took away free time I craved. Always saying yes to someone – whether it’s your husband, another family member, friends, co-workers – means you feel walked on, like you don’t matter as much as they do. You need to be OK with putting your foot down and saying no to things that might give you more time, space or happiness.

5. I always thought I was right.

This might just be my problem, not one all wives have, but I think it’s big enough to be mentioned. A lot of the time I thought I was right because I had lived on my own more, or because I had been more independent, or because it was stuff women were just “supposed” to know more about. I tried to always speak with authority and sound confident, but in reality, I often didn’t know if I was more correct than him. I had always been so independent I felt like letting a man be right meant I was weak or dumb. It took me time to let him be right, but I realized he’s actually a really intelligent man – I wouldn’t be with him if he weren’t!

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6. I expected him to read my mind.

I know how to get people to talk to me, and so I always ask a lot of questions to try and learn what they’re going through and what might help them. So I expect others to do this for me, too. I don’t come home and volunteer information about what happened during my day and how it made me feel. I expected my husband to read my body language and, yes, read my mind and see I was unhappy, then go about talking to me and soothing me on his own. This never happened. It’s just not how people work! He told me he was hurt when I didn’t share with him, because he has always been very open about his days and his emotions. So I started trying to make sure I told him things I’d done, or how I felt, and he started making a point to ask me about certain things so I’d know he wanted me to open up to him.

7. I put other things before him.

This is probably the hardest point for me to get over, and I bet I haven’t really stopped yet. Because I’ve always lived on my own and done things for myself, I can’t get over the mindset I need to do everything, and I need to do it now. Those dishes are stacked on the counter and have to be washed – now! The floor needs to be vacuumed – now! I want to crawl in bed and read a book – now! I know it aggravates my husband because he is much more laid back – especially about housework! But sometimes he just wants to cuddle and talk, or sit on the couch, or watch a movie. I always feel like I need to get things done, or multitask, and this makes him think I don’t want to be with him. I’ve explained to him how my brain works when it comes to this, but it’s not enough to tell in words – I have to show him with my actions. So now when I get frantic about housework or my never-ending to-do list, I take a deep breath and melt into his arms and enjoy being with him.

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Hogan via flickr.com

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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