Dr. Romance writes:
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What do you do after you have tried everything and your partner, friend, child or colleague still won't negotiate?
In previous articles, like “Asking for What you Want,” “Couples Can Cooperate for Success” and “Gentle Persistence” we’ve explored a lot of communication skills and techniques. But what if your partner doesn't seem to care or acknowledge that you have a significant problem, or to be willing to help solve it?
Like many people, you may believe you have only two options if your counterpart won't agree to negotiate:
1) Either you can attempt to change the other person's attitude through force or coercion; that is, you can push, nag, badger, pressure, whine, complain, reason, yell, resist, pout or get violent. Or,
2) you can give up, you can walk out, sacrifice, submit, comply, withdraw, withhold or accept your partner's decision.
But there is a third option: You can choose to apply the steps of this guide to solve the problem by taking care of yourself. And when you have found a unilateral solution that solves the problem for you, you can re-approach your partner, stating your possible solution, and offering to renegotiate.
This technique I call solving the problem for yourself. If you are faced with a partner who won't or can't work with you, solving the problem for yourself bypasses all the struggle, hassle and arguing, and goes straight to the central issue: solving the problem. This is probably the most powerful encouragement for your partner to join in and agree to negotiate, because he or she "loses a vote" and does not get to be part of the solution unless he or she works with you.
Solving it yourself is not done in a spirit of "OK, you won't negotiate, so I'll show you," but in a spirit of "I understand that you don't want discuss this, so I'll have to solve it for myself, as best I can. When you are ready to cooperate and negotiate, I'll be available."
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There are several benefits to this approach:
* It is liberating to assert yourself on your own behalf and to realize you don't have to have your partner's participation to be satisfied, yet you also don’t have to shut him or her out, or be unkind.
* You no longer have the problem you were concerned about.
* You can still have a good, loving, relationship, because you have shut your partner out (the option to negotiate is always open) and you aren't feeling frustrated, angry and deprived.
* It takes the pressure off your partner, and increases the likelihood that he or she will relax and be less defensive and more interested.
* It prevents you from being helpless and frustrated, so you are more able to welcome your partner's cooperation when he or she offers it.