How Liz O'Donnell Negotiates Marital Bliss
Liz O'Donnell of Hello Ladies took our signature course a few months ago. In fact, A wise woman suggested the course to her and she promptly negotiated a discounted tuition in our virtual course in exchange for writing about it. She had no idea that she alredy knew what she was about to learn, and this is so very true for so many women. Although women do need to learn new strategies and tactics of negotiation, we're intuitively good at reaching agreement. It often takes the power of community to help us turn our attention back toward ourselves to deepen our practice, practice, practice.
What follows is Liz's final installment. Thank you Liz--not only for your series, but for taking your needs and wants seriously. I am happy to know we played a small part in your household construction projects :)
During the She Negotiates online course we did several role plays. My final role play felt like my worst. I wasn’t discouraged by the botched attempt; I was merely resigned. For my final assignment, I role played a scenario I have negotiated unsuccessfully at least twice a year for the last ten years. I role played asking my husband to hire a contractor to do some home improvements.
Because my negotiating partner in the class was skilled and kind, my fictitious husband said yes during the class. The instructors gave me positive feedback on the interaction and I stayed quiet so as not to disappoint anyone. If they wanted to believe I had advanced my skills, who was I to burst their bubble?
But then, just as the class was ending, I spoke up. “You know,” I said, “I can always get my husband to say yes in these situations. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is when I go to call the contractor or place the order and he gets cold feet about spending the money and tells me to hold off for a while.”
“Aaah,” they murmured, like doctors examining a set of x-rays. They explained that negotiating partners who have been coerced often get cold feet. Did that sound like an accurate depiction of my past negotiations, they asked? Sure, I used coercion…and whining, cajoling, crying and pouting – anything that didn’t involve pride or dignity. They gave me some coaching on what to do instead and I filed it away.
About a week went by and I finally worked up the nerve to ask my husband about hiring someone to do some work on the exterior of the house. I didn’t want to try and fail again. “We need other, bigger things done on the house,” he said- a familiar response that usually led nowhere. But this time, instead of saying, “But we need this too,” I asked him, “Well, what are your thoughts on prioritizing our projects?” and “What are your concerns about cost?” and “If we could get the work done for X, would you be open to it?” and “Are you worried about…?” And I listened. I really listened. I let go of my need to hear, “Yes.” I just let the conversation take a natural course. If we decided to get the work done – great. And if we didn’t – so what? We’d lived without the work this long.
And eventually, we both got to yes. And I called the contractor. And the price was good. And he was going to start last month, and last week, and maybe tomorrow, but now it might snow. And, oh well. We got to yes and someday the work will get done.