Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I love negotiating.

It's a way to get to know someone - what they want, need and expect. And it's a way to see if we can work out a way to make sure we're both getting enough of what we want, need and expect in order to make a work or personal relationship beneficial to both people.

1. The first thing we need is two people equally interested - as commited - in negotiating - both need to have the same goal: make the situation work and in a way that pleases both people.

If both people aren't equally willing to hash it out - um, it's a monologue. Say! That's not a bad idea. A monologue about negotiating with someone who refuses to show up. Note to self: write this monologue.

A couples' therapist told me that many couples come to him because one of them actually decided months ago she or he wants to leave the relationship and isn't as keen on doing what it takes to make the relationship continue - while the other partner comes to earnestly learn how to work it out. The counselor is relied upon to help the person wanting out of the relationship to explain the reasons in a way more palatible to the person being left.

When there isn't equal enthusiasm to work on what it takes to deal with the issues creating the problems between them to make it work? Um, you do the math ..

2. The next thing is to set a firm date and time to hold the session - within a reasonable period of time.

It doesn't work to say "Oh, someday." Or, casually, "I don't know when I'll be ready .." both of which show a lack of interest.

3. Each person brings in a list of what she or he wants, needs and expects. It can be as long as you wish, but in order of the most important first to the least important last.

4. If you don't want to include a mediator, I suggest you tape record the session to hear what you sound like. Some people are shocked to hear how harsh or passive or .. differently .. they sound from how they intended, at least consciously, to sound.

5. Take each item one at a time - and take turns. Flip a coin for who goes first. A takes the first 5 minutes - uninterrupted - to explain his first point/concern/want/need/expectation.

When the timer goes off at 5 minutes, re-set it for 5 minutes for a discussion period, when B is allowed to ask questions of A or seek greater understanding of A's concern/point/need, etc. This is not a time for B to present her side or experience of the situation or challenge what A has said.

6. Now it's B's turn to talk about her first point for 5 minutes. Followed by a 5 minute discussion period, with A only seeking greater understanding or asking questions for clarification.

7. After presenting 3 points with discussion periods for each person, it's time to listen to the tape. Take notes as you hear something you want to clarify, new information or something you may want to comment on later.

8. When the tape has been played, it's time for a chat about what was said and heard.

You can set up guidelines of this part for yourselves. I recommend each person takes 3 minutes to talk about previous notions you had before the negotiations started and what changes in perceptions have taken place - or to add information to anything considered misunderstood from the information sharing.

9. Stop. Reset another date and time for a session, agreeing not to discuss any serious matters until the session - but to make notes about them to share later.

Part of the reason for that is that tempers or levels of fear drop enough to be more clear and cogent about stating the situation when we wait - and look forward to that specific time to meet and discuss these matters.

There's a relief and reassurance for both people, knowing that any issues will be reserved at these scheduled meetings. You can actually begin to look forward to them.

After the initial discomfort of the first meeting, they can actually become fun.


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