How can we slow down the conversation and really hear what our partner is asking for? How can we create conversations where our own needs are heard...I mean REALLY understood! Here are some tips for successful negotiations and how to develop a deeper understanding between ourselves and our loved ones, to cultivate the relationships we deserve.
“I can lose money, but I cannot lose a relationship. The test is, at the end of a conversation, or a negotiation, both must smile.”
When we are young we tend to believe if we just fall in love the rest will fall into place. Finding someone who desires us and who we desire often takes care of itself as we move through our worlds in the normal course of events, but having the relationship you desire isn’t the same as having the relationship you deserve. I say this because each interaction and energetic exchange we have (sufferable or enjoyable) is a reflection of our mental processes, which brought us to that particular exchange at that exact moment in time; it’s the relationship we have created with another and thus the relationship we deserve. A sufferable situation in a relationship is a reflection of a misaligned relational blueprint (the subconscious way we were taught to relate to ourselves & the world through early caretakers). However, relational blueprints are designed to be upgraded so that we can become better negotiators.
I believe “relationship” is the place where we get to practice upgrading ourselves in each interaction thus, changing the relational blueprint we inherited from our early childhood experiences, so we can create win/win outcomes for both parties. I believe both parties should leave a negotiation smiling. If you’ve done the SELF-LOVE exercises & the BOUNDARY setting practices from last month’s articles then you’re ready to begin sharpening your negotiating skills. What does it take to sharpen your negotiating skills? Let’s take a brief tour of what you can do to start honing your relationship negotiating skills to create the relationship you desire.
Every solution that’s seen the light of day was born from a problem, so the first point of practice is to understand that your nervous system is trained to get hooked on the problem because it thinks that’s the way to keep you safe. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution to negotiating your needs. When you feel stuck and cannot seem to negotiate a different way of communicating, or having your needs met, don’t let that keep you making it mean that your partner “is and always will be that way” or that your needs will always go unmet. Never believe that “that’s just the way it’s always going to be” because the truth of the matter is that everything is always changing and your power, energy and intentions play a large part in the direction of those movements.
In an earlier cycle of dating, my present partner used to say repeatedly, “I’m just not the type of person to cohabit with someone” (that someone being me); “I know I will never live with anyone, ever again”. I used to find it hurtful because the judgment (his belief that he was always going to be that way) excluded the degree of closeness (or so I thought) I wanted to experience with him. I couldn’t help but feel rejected and hurt or abandoned by that. It had a pushing away type of energy and triggered me into focusing on the problem being we were never going to live together. It kept me from negotiating a different conversation around the topic and ultimately cost us that relationship because when I kept judging him as having “commitment issues” it kept me from negotiating for what my soul needed in that moment.
We’ve all been there, where we judge our partners as “this” or “that” and look for ways to find relief (avoiding or attacking) or to leave that relationship only to find another one that grows into another version of the same problem. Remember that any problem you have in your present relationship has the solution awaiting discovery, but that requires curiosity & flexibility.
Have you ever tried negotiating from a space of feeling angry, blaming & judgemental or experienced your partner negotiating from that space? It likely sounds more like a bark, a command or a requirement, which does nothing to engage a win/win outcome, or a heartfelt response to your request. Conversely, if you’ve ever been barked at, you know how uninviting it feels. At the level of the chakras, the energy of judgment & blame creates a pushing away effect, such that no matter how insistent you become, the energy creates distance instead of closeness. Judgment has the negative impact of shutting down the emotional connection between you & your partner, thus cheating you out of the experience of self-discovery, which is what happened in the early incarnations of my relationship with my partner.
“Emotional awareness is necessary so you can convey your thoughts and feelings to the other person.”
As Jason Goldberg, executive film producer, pointed out, in order for me to be flexible and curious I had to be open to the possibility that what I was making our interactions (around living together) mean, (that he really didn’t love me) might not be that at all; to be open to the possibility that other perspectives might have more bearing on the matter than the painful perspective I was overly attached to. Being curious meant I had to do some internal exploration first about myself & then become open to exploring the inner emotional landscape of my partner without judging him. I had to practice a deeper form of awareness to upgrade my relational blueprint.
To exercise your emotional muscles and keep yourself from shutting down, (often a symptom of a misaligned relational blueprint) I highly recommend having a regular breathing practice or loving kindness meditation practice, so your gentle awareness at the heart and crown chakras, with the combination of rhythmic breathing cycles can both slow your nervous system down and create internal spaciousness where solutions arise.
A cluttered and busy dialoguing mind often leads to actions and words that only add to the conflict, keeping the solution at bay. Practice getting still and quiet in your mind by closing your eyes and focusing on the 3 second holds at the top of your 6 second inhalation and at the bottom of the 6 second exhalation during your rhythmic breathing practice. 7-9 cycles will allow for the space in which solutions can appear.
In order to call forth the solution I had to ask the right questions to help keep myself open to my partner’s experience (as well as attentive to my own needs), which is incredibly difficult when you’re having a strongly triggered reactive emotion. Here are the basic steps I used (still do) to negotiate a new exploration of the issue which helped me to negotiate getting my needs met on the next dating round we engaged in.
1. Slow down the conversation - While internally repeating “the light in me honors the light in you” as you meet eyes during the communication, as suggested in the book “Words Can Change Your Brain”, (Newberg & Waldman, Pg. 70) slow your words down so that you can listen to the silence in between the words. This can be done as a joint exercise or you can simply slow down the words you speak. When done sentence by sentence, (one person saying one sentence & the other person saying the next sentence with as much as 1 or 2 seconds in between the words) the silence between the words allows for more understanding & space for solutions to arise. Energetically, more intuitive information flows into the space between you.
This exercise allowed my partner & I to understand new needs that we were not aware we each had and so couldn’t negotiate for. Once I understood that his issue was feeling controlled and he needed structured free space on his own and once he understood that I felt rejected and abandoned by his old judgments on cohabitation and that I needed a consistency of connection in times that were important to me, we were able to move to support each other in getting our needs met without arguing about whether we were going to ever live together.
2. When you’re having the conversation ask yourself, “What do I really want to feel in this moment in order to experience feeling loved & esteemed (or safe & valued)?”; “Is that really the thing that’s going to help me to feel that?”. When I asked myself that question, I realized that simply occupying the same living space (insisting on living together) wasn’t the thing that was going to help me feel loved and esteemed by him, because the dissonances we were having from his “pushing away” behavior is what created and required separate living spaces.
I had to get silent so I could hear my inner voice arise to let me know what I needed in that exact moment. We would have never gotten to this juncture without asking ourselves key questions and being honest with ourselves and each other in the process. Be aware of what the true essence is around what you’re negotiating for, otherwise you’ll get something that doesn’t really satisfy.
We’re constantly co-creating the degree of relatedness (closeness) or lack thereof in everything we do & say in each moment. Taking responsibility for what we are creating in every moment in our relationships and making sure that we’re staying available for what that costs our relationship is the mark of a highly skilled negotiator, yet it’s a practice that will ultimately reconfigure your relational blueprint to become a skilled negotiator.
But how do you know what the profit loss margin is in a relationship if your negotiations are tough going? That is, how do you know if the costs in your relationship are worth the rewards you experience? Next month's article will address relational intimacy and measuring the cost to the amount of rewards, for leveraging a better ratio of relationship satisfaction.
Thanks for hanging in there and doing the tough work of inner exploration & committing to upgrading your relational blueprint! If you have any questions you would like to personally explore through an intuitive reading, I’m happy to help you in your quest of creating the relationship you desire with win/win outcomes.