It's another Monday night, and you're just getting home. Your kids are whining about something, dinner has to be made, and your husband is doing that thing that always pisses you off. So you start arguing with each other. Wouldn't you love to learn how to win that argument for once? And quickly?
A recent article in The New York Times revealed some surprising negotiating tactics that can help you win. And by "win" I mean win-win, for both of you. (You knew that, right?) Because hopefully your ultimate goal as a couple is peace, love, and understanding. So get out your cushions, couples -- I'm not kidding.
1. Watch out for transitions. Researchers say the biggest fights happen when family members are either saying hello or goodbye: When you're trying to get the kids off to school, when you're coming home from work, when you're trying to get the kids off to bed. The worst time is between 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. So be aware of that, and if you find yourself getting testy during a transition, bite your tongue and save that argument for a better time.
2. Sit at the same level. Weird, but true -- the levels where you sit or stand can influence your argument. If you're both at the same level, you're more likely to deal with each other as equals.
3. Get comfy. Another weird one -- people are more flexible during an argument or discussion if they're sitting in soft chairs or sofas than when they're sitting on hard chairs.
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4. Set a timer. Apparently people make the most important points in their opening statements. After that, people end up just repeating themselves and yelling. So it actually helps to set a time limit (make sure each person gets equal time). If you haven't reached an agreement, call a time-out and take a five-minute break before getting back together again.
These tips were all new to me. Here's a couple more that I've tried and found worked pretty well.
5. Make gentle physical contact. If you haven't reached the boiling point, sometimes holding hands or even touching toes can help you feel connected even if you're not seeing eye to eye at the moment.
6. Don't use his talking time to prep your arguments. When he's explaining his side of things, do you ever find yourself tuning him out and planning what you'll say next? You really need to stop and hear your partner. Pause after he finishes talking if you need time to think about your response.
7. Stop what you're doing. This is no time to multitask. If you and your husband have something important to discuss, you both need to give it your full attention. Don't fold laundry and argue at the same time. Even if you think you can still listen, it gives the message that your relationship and the conflict aren't worth your full attention -- and it makes your spouse feel like you're not listening.
Do you have any other negotiating tactics that have worked for you?
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