Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Tips for Negotiating Conflict

Definition: Ne-go-ti-ate: to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter; to deal with (some matter or affair that requires ability for its successful handling); to arrange or bring about through conference, discussion and compromise 

John Donne wrote the famous meditation No Man is an Island in which he illustrates how each of us are impacted by the actions of others. Consequently, each time one man “dies a little death” so we, too, feel his pain. If you can keep this concept in mind while negotiating conflict with a partner, you will understand that when one of you loses, you both lose, and when one of you wins, you both win. 

Let’s review 7 principles and techniques to utilize for a “winning” negotiation that can resolve conflict in a way that can be satisfactory for both parties. 

 "Let us never negotiate out of fear. 
 But, let us never fear to negotiate." 
                                                         ~John F. Kennedy 

1. Choose your desired outcome before you start. Determine your ideal outcome, as well as the points on which you’re willing to be flexible. Knowing where you want to go and what you want to achieve BEFORE you start allows you to avoid making snap decisions you may regret. Follow Karl Albrecht's rule, who said: “Start out with an ideal and end up with a deal.” 

2. Know and understand to whom you are speaking. You know your partner’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as where all the “buttons” reside. Use this information to your benefit and steer clear of issues that you know will create a firestorm. If you can’t avoid them, at least approach them in a non-accusatory manner. 

3. Don’t devalue yourself. Your contribution to the partnership is important, even if it may not look equal on the outside, for example, if one of you is a stay-at-home parent and the other is the breadwinner. Without support on the home front, the breadwinner would not be able to be as successful, for his/her focus would be split and scattered. Everyone has an important job to do and so each partner has an equal say/vote. Inspire confidence in your abilities by presenting clear, well-thought-out proposals. 

4. Listen twice as much as you talk. We were all born with two ears and one mouth for a reason! Rather than being anxious to state your case, practice active listening when your partner presents his/her side. You can pick up valuable clues that can lead to an easy resolution. 

5. Be a positive force. Robert Estabrook said, “He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of a diplomat.” Thus, enter your negotiations with the expectation that it can be resolved amicably, even if you have to agree to disagree. An optimistic outlook can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, just as a negative one can become one too. Choose to succeed! 

6. Never threaten or make ultimatums. Don’t become emotionally attached to your solution; it may not be the best way. One sure way for negotiations to break down is uttering the statement, “It’s my way or the highway.” This accomplishes nothing except building a bigger wall between you and your partner. Remaining calm and patient, even if your partner is reaching a boiling point, can help to rein in the conversation to a manageable proportion. Joseph Joubert said, “Never cut what you can untie.” 

7. Don’t focus on winning. It’s important for both parties to feel satisfied about the decided upon course of action. This most probably will involve some compromise, but that’s the name of good partnering. You want to leave a negotiation with both parties feeling good about the situation AND about each other (and his/her ability to work together). Henry Boyle said, “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.”

If you are having difficulty negotiating conflict with your partner, you may be interested in my book: How To Find Your Happily Ever After: What To Do Before and After You Say I Do. The book gives practical advice on how to build a healthy and successful relationship; how to communicate with your partner; how to navigate conflict; how to enhance your relationship; and how to avoid becoming a divorce statistic ... all for only $1.99 on Amazon. Click here to purchase.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tips for Dating After 50+

Love is not just for the young, but also for the young at heart. It can happen at any age and still be the most joyous of celebrations. 

One of the problems that results in mismatched couples is that when people marry in their early twenties, and even into their thirties, they don’t always know the right questions to ask before “taking the leap.” Most often, the older you get, the wiser you become. 

Of course, this can be a double-edged sword because it may also be harder to find and commit to a life partner because you know too many questions to ask. What you must remember is that no matter how many answers you have, there will always be more questions. Love, commitment, and marriage are, in the end, all a leap of faith. If you have true love, respect, and a willingness to work at a relationship, then the impossible becomes possible. 

Many who are in their fifties and sixties are distraught at the idea of having to search for new love just at a time when they thought they would be walking into the sunset holding hands with their prior or late partner. If this is the situation and mindset in which you find yourself, what is needed is a change in perspective. 

Would you be willing to consider yourself lucky to be searching for a new relationship at an older age? 

Think about it …. 

Once you hit the 50 mark, you are probably past the point of child rearing; your career has been established; your priorities have been readjusted and are in order; that nasty mid-life crisis is over; and the next relationship you have can be a “couples only” relationship where the major focus is on each other and the enjoyment of life. 

Consequently, for those of you who are on your own at a mature age, try not to feel frustrated by your circumstances. Look at it as an adventure and a time to start life anew.  As Robertson Davies so aptly stated: "As a general thing, people marry most happily with their own kind. The trouble lies in the fact that people usually marry at an age when they do not really know what their own kind is.” 

Let’s discuss 10 appropriate elements that can help you determine “your own kind.”  I also suggest some questions for you to ponder.

1. Rhythm of life. Life becomes a little more challenging when one partner is a tortoise and the other a hare. When the pace at which you experience life is similar, more synchronicity is attained. 

2. Sense of ease. You are comfortable to be yourself, which includes the good, the bad and the ugly. 

3. Desire to share activities. It’s not necessary to be joined at the hip, but research shows the more leisure activities that are experienced together, the closer the bond between partners grow. These shared moments go into a memory bank and can be pulled upon when experiencing a difficult time. 

4. Health priorities. No one knows when illness may strike, but are both partners doing everything in their power to remain healthy? This can include eating healthy and staying physically fit. 

5. Political views. This becomes very important if one of you is an activist and the other generally opposes every idea that you hold close to your heart. Can you agree to disagree or would you rather be with someone who holds your belief system?

6. Aspirations. What’s your passion and purpose in life? Do you want to sit on the couch and watch television (and the world go by) or do you still have a burning desire to make a difference in the world? 

7. Family considerations. Love is grand, but practicalities do count. Where do each of you want to live? Will there be children at home? Is there a chance you will be caring for grandchildren? How will holidays be spent? 

8. Intellect. Stimulating conversation is an important part of a relationship. Each partner doesn’t have to be an expert on every subject. Sometimes it’s nice to be the teacher and at other times the student. What’s more important is the openness to learning from each other. 

9. Importance of affection/intimacy. If this is at the top of your list, you don’t want to be with a person who has no interest in it. Of course, there exists a myriad of ways to express affection and intimacy. Find the balance that’s right for you. 

10. Religious belief system. Are you religious or spiritual? Is going to an organized service each week a must for you? Without having to embrace it, can you accept that others may hold a different belief system? 

If you're preparing to Internet date, the preceding are topics upon which you can base your essay or open up conversations.

The information presented is a partial excerpt from "Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story," which is available as a Kindle or Nook book, as well as a soft-cover at the following links.

Don't forget to like Finding Love After Loss on Facebook to read tips and thoughts on love, dating and relationships.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Loosening Attachments to Prior Partners

A “Desperate Housewife” said, “The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. And if you hate me, that means you still care and we’re still connected.” 

Once a relationship ends there can exist both negative and/or positive attachments. Often in the case of divorce, there is a negative one, while after the death of a spouse with whom there was a good relationship, there exists a positive attachment. Whichever the case, in order to welcome new love into your life, these attachments must be loosened.

Think about how it feels when a string is tied tightly around your finger. The pressure turns your focus on it; it’s annoying and can cut off your circulation; and, if not untied, can cause further damage to your finger. So it is with attachments to prior partners. You focus on the past (either good or bad), and it has a detrimental effect on your emotional state of mind, which, in turn, hampers your forward moving action. 

In my book, Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story, I discuss readjusting the picture of a late or ex-spouse. Following is an excerpt.

It is the natural tendency of a bereaved survivor to elevate his or her spouse to the position of a saint, once he or she is gone. Whether you had a good or bad marriage, death seems to erase all those annoying little habits that used to drive you up a wall! While it is important to remember the positive things and not dwell on the negative, it may be detrimental to your recovery to complete a sainthood application for your lost loved one. No one is perfect, and no relationship is without some strife. This does not mean your loved one was a bad person — only that he/she was human and had human failings. 

In the case of divorce, the opposite may be true: you may want to complete an application for devilhood! However, the result is the same — it stops you from moving forward. Try to remember that once there was a time when you saw the good in each other. Attempt to put the pain of your break-up aside and try focusing on the positive aspects of your ex-spouse. 

Just as one day you hope that your children will see you as a person as well as a parent, and, therefore, accept any mistakes you have made and will make in the future, attempt to see your ex-spouse as simply a human being that has and will make mistakes. This allows for the possibility of forgiveness, both towards your ex-spouse and yourself. As an added bonus, this type of attitude may make custodial arrangements run more smoothly.


Concerning the death of a spouse/partner, as part of your grief work, you must learn to readjust the picture you hold in your mind of your late loved one. Realistically evaluate your relationship and come to terms with this new picture. The two of you might have had a special way you dealt with finances, problems, children, etc. It worked when there were two of you. However, now you are making decisions by yourself, and you have to do what works for you. If you believe that your late spouse did everything the way it was supposed to be done, then you will have a hard time feeling good about any different decisions you may make. 

Furthermore, as you move on with your life and consider dating and possible remarriage, it will be very hard for a new romantic interest to compete with a dead saint. Each person is an individual and must be evaluated on his/her own merits. It is not fair to compare a new girl or boyfriend to your late spouse. Cherish the gifts your spouse gave you and then look for new ways of approaching life to enter your realm of consciousness. Believe you are a gift to everyone you encounter and that everyone you meet has a gift to offer to you. 

Concerning divorce and ex-spouses, it is important to also readjust or re-frame the role he or she will play in your life going forward. If you cannot sever (or at least loosen) the attachment, the bitter taste of failure may remain in your mouth and discolor anything (and anyone) new you meet. The former relationship failed for a reason. Most times, the harsh words and hurt feelings cannot be erased. Change your perception by considering the tough times as instructive examples of how you do not want to live your life. 

Finally, along with loosening attachments and readjusting the picture of a late or ex-spouse, you must also learn to loosen the attachment to the “pre-loss you” and thereby adjust your personal picture. Any sort of momentous experience changes you, so it is virtually impossible for you to be the same person as you were before your loss. Work towards finding and developing the “new single you.” This is the person who will be able to seek and welcome new love.

Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story is available as a Kindle or Nook book, as well as a soft-cover at the following links.

Don't forget to like Finding Love After Loss on Facebook to read tips and thoughts on love, dating and relationships.