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These 8 Tips Will Help You a Lot When Meeting Your Partner’s Parents for the First Time

These 8 Tips Will Help You a Lot When Meeting Your Partner’s Parents for the First Time

Meeting the parents is an important milestone in any intimate relationship for all involved.  As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and first impressions matter.

Not convinced? First impressions matter so much that scientists study them. As shared by Forbes, Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov and student researcher Janine Willis asked a wide cross-section of subjects to look at a microsecond of a video of a political candidate. With only that microsecond to go on, research subjects obtained a 70% accuracy rating in predicting who would win the election. What can we all take away from this study? People can make accurate snap judgments in a tenth of a second.

Are you worried about how to navigate those potentially rocky waters of meeting your partner’s parents for the first time? Keep these 8 tips in mind and your relationship will be off to a smooth start.

1. Remember that it’s about all of you.

Most men and women worry about the parent’s impression, the partner’s impression, the cat’s impression, and everything under the sun when they meet the parents for the first time. Remember that this occasion is also about you. This meeting is a valuable opportunity to learn more about your partner. Pay attention to their parent’s mannerisms, home, and how they treat each other. No matter what the current state of your partner’s relationship with them is, the parent’s influence was a powerful one in shaping future expectations of intimate relationships.

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What can you learn about your partner from this new perspective into their family life?  Do you like what you see?  What troubles you?  Did you enjoy their time? How you do you feel at the end of the evening? Be honest with yourself – like anyone you know, there will be things you consider positive and those that deter you. The more clarity with which you view them, the better you can evaluate your bond with your partner and stay on the same page as you move toward the future.

2. Maintain perspective.

How big a deal is “meeting the parents?” It depends. If families are far-flung and meeting them requires travel, a holiday, or another momentous occasion, then yes, it’s definitely a big deal. If everyone lives in the same neighborhood and your partner first introduces you when you run into each other in the supermarket, then things are more casual. Ask your partner how important this occasion is to them, and be clear about where this meeting falls on the “serious, committed relationship” scale to you.

Some people highly value their parents’ opinions, or have unique care taking or other logistical arrangements with their parents, and prefer partners to meet them early on; some don’t give two shakes what their parents think and will see them in the pew when you two are at the altar. Bottom line – don’t stress, and don’t assume that meeting the parents necessarily means more than it does.

3. Realize how much you don’t know.

Whether you meet the parents in their home or in a public space, you are guaranteed to learn something about your partner during the meeting. Remember that these folks have decades of history together, complete with insides jokes, embarrassing stories, and detailed knowledge of each other. Work hard not to react to anything you hear – there is likely context that your partner will explain to you later, and there’s a good chance that jokes and stories that sound like they happened yesterday actually took place years ago.

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If you are past the age of 18, there is also an extremely good chance that you are not the first one your partner has ever brought home (really, would you want to be?), and that “meeting the parents” likely hasn’t gone swimmingly well in the past every time. The first meeting is all about composure – maintain yours.

4. Be there for your partner.

Most folks resort to humor to cut nervous tension, and families pretty much exist to share embarrassing stories. Some families also include nosy or maliciously minded individuals who will pry and push for information. Remember that this first meeting is just that – a first meeting. You wouldn’t have teased your partner incessantly on your first date, embarrassed them, or revealed exceedingly personal information, would you? Of course not. So don’t do it now.

Sure, down the road you can tease your partner with their family, but save that for later. Giggling is alright; ganging up on your partner in a quest to be accepted by the parents is not. Respect your partner’s privacy and the sanctity of your relationship at all times, and deflect all attempts to learn private information about your relationship with your partner.

5. Cut the parents some slack.

Think you’re nervous, excited, stressed, eager, or every other emotion under the sun? So are they. You’ll probably say something you wish you could take back, blurt out a joke that isn’t that funny, drop your napkin, or some other detail you agonize over on the car ride home. So will they.

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Take a deep breath, relax, and don’t judge any more than you wish to be judged. Remember, these people are important to your partner. It may have taken a few meetings to realize that you partner is amazing, your best friend is great to hang out with, that dog you eventually adopted is the right pet for you – give the parents some time, too.

6. Have a gift in hand and kind words on your lips.

No matter what you’re doing, where, when, what time of day, in what season – never arrive empty handed. But what gift to bring? Go for something the mother will like, and present the gift directly to her. Not only do classic rules of etiquette dictate presenting the hostess with a gift, but there are valuable “family goodwill” points to be gained by courting the mother’s favor. Not sure about her tastes, food allergies, or other considerations? Pick up a bouquet of flowers. On a super tight budget? Bake something – whether they like it or not, the effort will be noticed and appreciated.

Be appropriately generous with compliments throughout the evening, whether on a style of dress or the parents’ home, and send a handwritten “thank you” after the event.

7. Reciprocate.

Did the parents pick up the tab for the evening, or welcome you to their home? Reciprocate by hosting them the next time, or treating them to a meal or experience. Establishing you and your partner as mature adults who care about the parents will go a long way in the good will department and lay the foundation for the mutual respect that is a part of every ideal relationship. Added bonus: you’ll likely be able to relax and enjoy the second meeting a little more, especially on your home turf or a bit more on your terms.

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8. Relax, and enjoy.

The point of meeting the parents is that because you care about your partner, you could see them in your life for a while to come…. maybe even forever. That time is a lot happier, more peaceful, productive, and supportive if you all get along. They don’t have to be your favorite people, but you all do have something in common – love for your partner, who happens to be their child. So take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy your time with new folks. They did something right if your partner turned out the way they did, so no matter how this meeting goes, it should be an occasion to celebrate.

Mastered the parent thing? Check out these other 10 Keys To A Successful Romantic Relationship.

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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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