Negotiating within your family/partnership: from permanent fights to a common solution

Negotiating within your family/partnership: from permanent fights to a common solution

Yesterday a client called: ‘It is urgent!’ he said. ‘You know, leading my team remotely is working pretty well. But I have an emergency situation at home! I’ve been working 12 hours daily for weeks since I went into home office. My wife is covering her own job but also takes care of the children. There is basically no time left for us to spend together. I would very much like to help her but I am not able to do it in the way I should. Moreover, I can’t promise my wife that the situation of my working time will improve soon. We fight every day. I do not know what to do or what to say.’

Personal matters appear all the time during business coaching. In many cases, they cannot be separated from the business part. Managers and experts are demanding persons – they give but also request a lot at work. However, this can come at a cost for the private life.

Similar to business situations negotiations take place also within the family/partnership. If you do not realize that you are in a negotiation or do not lead it with sufficient tact and intuition, you certainly will face misunderstandings and fights.

My task is to support and guide you to accommodate both under the same roof: career and private life. These are a few hints how to proceed with negotiations within your family/partnership:

Negotiating in your family is notoriously tricky because:

1.) Relations and behavioural patterns have grown over many years. Emotional ties are particularly strong.
2.) We tend to react super sensitively to one another. Each negotiation situation can easily become highly emotional and turn into an argument.
3.) For fear of hurting the other, we struggle with candid communication.
4.) We think we know each other so well and for so long, so we tend to colour our image of the other and may fail to understand what our spouse/partner has actually said.

Which negotiation style fits for negotiations within the family/partnership?

Exclusively the cooperating style! Define a common goal: it is not about ‘winning’ or ‘being right’! Otherwise there will be winners and losers and losers will always be unhappy.
The rule says: happiness in the family comes only if ALL family members are happy. Hence, ‘give and take’ is name of the game.

How does negotiating within your family/partnership work?

Speak clearly. Listen carefully.

• Say what needs to be said, but no more. We all tend to talk too much or too unclearly.
• Keep to the points that you wanted to bring up. And then – listen!
• Let them know that you want to hear their side and understand what they have to say. Use active listening methods to let the other party see and feel this.
• Before you respond, process the information and take some time to think. Very often in family negotiations, we respond too quickly, especially as things get heated and emotional.

Compassion and understanding for your counterpart.

• Compassion is key to reaching a solution within the family/partnership. Put yourself in the position of your spouse/partner/child and try to understand their perspective.
• When they speak, listen openly and with compassion.
• Let your spouse/partner/child know that you want to discuss things because you care for them.

Stay focused on the subject.

• Do not allow other issues to interfere with the current negotiation. Stay focused with the issue at hand and do not bring up other past issues.
• If the words you speak do not help with the solution, do not say them!
• Does the other party digress? Kindly help them return to the current topic.
• If things get too heated or loud, it is time to step back or even walk away. Try again when everyone is calm and willing to talk in normal tones.

Find solutions that satisfy both sides.

Family/partnership members who love one another want to reach solutions that are acceptable for all parties involved. This is why discussion is needed to find out what is acceptable to each party and a middle ground can be found.

Negotiating within your family/partnership is often more difficult than it is within the business context. This is why your inner attitude is essential. I am happy to help you dealing with this complex situation:
• You will learn more about yourself, to help you draw calm, strength and self-confidence.
• You learn to recognize negotiation situations as such and (re)act appropriately.
• You will also learn suitable techniques to reach the best possible result within your family/partnership context.

You can reach me at: or +436602400135.

Your Raluca Ionescu

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