Relationships, Negotiation, and Compromise?
Many people would not put these three words in the same sentence. In fact, many people don’t see a need for negotiation or compromise in marriage or relationships. These are the “my way or the highway people.” It’s also one of the reasons there is so much divorce.
What is the difference between negotiation and compromise?
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines compromise as a settlement of differences by mutual concessions. You know the “I give a little, you give a lot; or you give a little, and I give a little,” and the combination of those goes on and on. However, Black’s Law dictionary defines negotiation as the deliberation, discussion or conference upon the terms of a proposed agreement; the act of settling or arranging the terms and conditions of a bargain, sale or other business transaction. I add any transaction to that definition including marriage/relationships.
In compromise, each person (or one person-win/lose) gives up something they wanted; but in negotiation, you get what you want.
Now the negotiation may include some compromise, but ultimately, you get what you want. It provides the framework for what is to come.
Do you realize that you negotiated the terms of your marriage the day you got married? Remember your vows? Your vows were a negotiated agreement; in stronger terms, a covenant. Why do you think people change what they say from the traditional vows? Because they are negotiating the terms of their agreement. In successful marriages, you spend the rest of your life making sure what you do is consistent with the terms of the negotiated agreement. Along the way, you will have compromise, but compromise is always for the benefit of the already negotiated agreement.
Think about other relationships in your life.
Have they failed, not formed appropriately, or are they failing for lack of a negotiated framework?
Many times, we have expectations of people in relationships without ever thinking through the terms of the relationship. Is it a friendship, an association, or an acquaintance? And how do you define those?
If I think of you as a friend, and you consider me an acquaintance, there is no negotiated framework. The relationship is bound to fail because what I would do for a friend, I may not do for an acquaintance, and our lack of understanding as to who we are to each other is critical. I hear many people say they don’t need to put “titles” on or “categorize” their relationships. I find that’s usually an excuse to remain uncommitted.
As for me, anyone who doesn’t think enough of me to negotiate the framework of our relationship is not worth my time. What I know for sure is that relationships that have negotiated frameworks work, even when there is disagreement, because there are reasonable expectations and boundaries that can be traced back to a negotiated framework that has defined expectations or at least a reasonable basis for expectation.
Renegotiating the Framework
There are also relationships that work well, and a time comes when you need to renegotiate the framework of the relationship. This process can be more difficult for people, and a wrong move can hurt, frustrate, alienate, and/or compromise an individual’s well-being.
For example, our daughter recently got married, and I am becoming a first time grandmother. I am thankful for a great relationship with my daughter, but I have been cognizant of renegotiating the framework now that she is married. My desire is to be a good mother in love and grandmother, and the framework that worked previously won’t work now. I am having a great time with the two of them as we wait for the birth of the baby, but it is working because of a framework that works. It is a negotiated framework that includes definition, boundaries, expectations, honesty, respect, and in this case, unconditional love.
In successful negotiation, intentionality is key. Let’s get intentional, and start negotiating.
For more Negotiation Tips – click here.
CALL TO ACTION:
Consider the health of the relationships in your life this week.
For the relationships that work well, do they work well because you compromise most of the time, or are they based on a negotiated framework by which you connect, communicate, grow, and live with each other?
In what relationships do you need to negotiate or renegotiate the framework?