“Somebody’s Gotta Win. Somebody’s Gotta Lose”
is the title of a once popular song that many people heard and actually believed the words to be true. While it may be so in sports, it doesn’t work well in human relationships.
Human beings are social animals who live in groups, communities and families, which are necessary to survive and thrive. Still, we each have our own heart mind and soul and consequently our views of the world include how relationships should work. In some relationships, one partner may feel that she or he is constantly being taken advantage of, or has to fight aggressively to get what he or she wants or needs in the relationship. Power struggles are plentiful and it’s the relationship that ultimately loses.
It is not unusual for people who love each other to be in conflict at times.
Sometimes, that conflict boils and assumes overwhelming proportions. This tactics undermine the very infrastructure of the relationship. To keep balanced harmony in a healthy relationship over the long haul, each person in the relationship must be able to have his or her needs met and be respected in the process. Qualities like kindness and respect are absolute requirements for a well functioning relationship. But when tempers are high and feelings are hurt, it is nearly impossible for couples to display either.
For some time now, Psychologists have been teaching people to use a Win-Win model in relationship conflicts. Win-Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and mutually satisfying. With a Win-Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win-Win sees life as cooperative, not competitive. Most people tend to think in terms of dichotomies: strong or weak, hardball or softball, win or lose. But that kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed, because it’s based on power and position rather than principle. With Win-Win, using negotiation and compromise, people create satisfying solutions where each can get some of what she or he wants.
Negotiation then, means to bargain with your partner in order to create agreement. Compromise means an agreement made by adjustments from both parties. It’s the act of reaching such an agreement. The difference between a compromise and negotiation are subtle but important. In order to achieve success, both should be used.
The aim of win-win negotiation is to find a solution
acceptable to both parties, that leaves both parties feeling that they’ve won, thereby avoiding lingering hostilities. The process is a little like a dance and assumes that the relationship is important, there’s equality among partners and that both partners are stepping to the music. Using tricks and manipulation during negotiation can throw the whole process of balance. Communication, empathetic listening, appropriate emotions, and a forward-looking positive attitude helps to achieve a mutually satisfactory outcome.
What’s A Person To Do?
- When you first get upset or angry with your partner, you actually have two problems: your emotions and the presenting problem. Chill Out. Your emotions can make things worse.
- Talk it out. Communicate your concerns and share what solutions you seek. Listen to your partner’s issues and concerns. Use “I” messages (I feel) rather than “You” messages (you never or you always).
- Keep your word. Do what you agreed to do without keeping score. Expect your partner to do the same.
- Once the issue is settled, let it stay settled. Some people have perfect recall for every infraction. They store them in a gunny sack, and dump them on every conflict. This will surely derail the process.
- Remember, disagreements are a natural part of human relationships. You can disagree without being disagreeable. It’s important to solve conflict in a fair and rational way.
Loving relationships are about building each other up rather than putting each other down.
Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native Tunican, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and an author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives and writes in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.
Feature photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at Free Digital Photos