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10 Relationship Tips That Couples Often Forget

10 Relationship Tips That Couples Often Forget

Once a couple of people have settled into a relationship, things can fall into a bit of a rut. Routines form, the attentiveness that was present at the beginning of the courtship might be replaced by content complacency, and ultimately tensions arise. These simple tips may seem like common sense, but you may be surprised at how often people forget about their importance.

Communication is Vital

Very few of us are able to read one another’s minds, so it’s important to express things that weigh on us, whether they’re positive or negative. Little behaviors that bother us can become more irksome over time, so it’s good to address them early, before the irritation accumulates to the point of anger. Similarly, miscommunications can lead to some pretty ugly arguments, so if you’re uncertain about something, try to discuss it calmly so you can sort things out: you may have misheard or misread something your partner said/did and taken it totally out of context, so clarify before freaking out about anything. Even though we may feel that we know our partners well after being with them for several years, remember that we all grow and change over time, and methods of communication must change along with us as needed.

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Never Take Each Other for Granted

Be aware of every wonderful thing that your partner does for you, and express your gratitude whenever possible. This might be as simple as thanking them for doing the dishes after you’ve eaten dinner, or telling them how much it means to you that they make your coffee/tea exactly the way you like it. They’ll feel appreciated for the love and kindness they show you, and will express their appreciation to you in turn, so no one ever feels like their actions aren’t being acknowledged.

Respect Each Other’s Alone Time

Togetherness is important, but just as important (if not more so) is the ability to spend time alone. Too much time spent together can make you irritable, especially if you feel like your personal space is always being invaded. Time alone is necessary for personal reflection, growth, meditation, or even just quiet contemplation. Remember that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and you’ll appreciate your partner a lot more after having some space away from them. If you live together, it might be a good idea to have personal spaces that you can retreat to: either individual offices, or a garage workshop for one person and an attic library for another, etc.

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Don’t “Let Yourself Go”

It’s inevitable that once certain comfort levels have been reached and closeness wins out over early awkwardness, some behavioral patterns will change. You might not spend an hour prepping before dinner to make sure that your hair is perfect, or your partner might wear the same pants for two days in a row without worrying about what you might think of their outfit. That’s totally normal, and really quite hilarious. That said, closer comfort levels don’t mean that you should neglect your personal hygiene, or let your living space fall into complete ruin. You know they’re not going to judge you if you leave pizza boxes all over the floor, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Try to keep things tidy and your appearance a step or two above “slovenly,” and your partner will undoubtedly feel that they’re worth making an effort for.

Share Some Hobbies, and Have Solo Pursuits as Well

You might not share your partner’s love of MMORPGs, and they may not be interested in your love of foreign films, and you know what? That’s absolutely okay. While it’s great to pursue some hobbies and interests together, it’s important to have your own social groups and interests as well. Take cooking classes or swing dance lessons together, hook up with friends to go to wine tasting nights, but then split off for your individual pursuits: you’ll have fun things to talk about when you meet up afterwards.

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Admit When You’re Wrong (or When They’re Right)

This may be difficult for some people to do, but it really is important. If you discover that you’ve been wrong about an issue/bit of information/whatnot, own up to it: you’ll gain your partner’s appreciation and respect if you do, and if you don’t, you’re just proving yourself to be an immature, pouty jerk. Additionally, if you’ve been discussing something and your partner turns out to be in the right, acknowledge that fact: they may have been filled with self-doubt, and acknowledging their awareness or knowledge may boost their self-esteem exponentially.

Have Faith In Your Partner

Having trust and faith in another person can be difficult, especially if you’ve been hurt by others in the past. If you’ve been cheated on or otherwise betrayed by another partner, you might worry that the same thing will happen in your current relationship, and this may cause you to imagine things or accuse your partner without just cause. If you find that your own insecurities are poisoning your partnership, talk it out with them and consider seeking therapy: they’re not the person who hurt you, so please don’t assume that just because one person treated you badly, everyone else will too.

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Leave the Past In the Past

If you work through a hardship together and come to a positive resolution, move past it and use the experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t refer back to it during arguments, don’t bring it up as a means of guilt-tripping your partner, and try not to assume that just because something happened once, that it’ll happen again. What’s passed is past, and rehashing old ugliness will just poison future happiness. Let it go.

Mutual Goals are Important

It’s great to have a goal or a project that you’re both working on together, as that can affect many aspects of your life outside of your actual relationship. You could be working on an art piece, saving up for a trip, building a cottage, or even working on a garden. Determine your strengths for the project so you’re working in harmony, and build something amazing that you can be proud of having achieved as a team.

Be Honest

Some people lie to their partners for years out of fear of hurting or offending them, but that can lead to a whole lot of ugliness on all sides. The one being lied to will know that something is wrong, and the one lying may feel more and more frustration about holding back and the relationship may end up suffering badly as a result. This honesty doesn’t have to deal with outright lies, but rather personal interests or preferences that may have changed over the years. Alternately, there could be some serious issues that really should be dealt with, but are internalized out of fear of hurting the other person. Ultimately, honesty really is the best policy, and a strong couple will be able to work through just about anything together.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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