The art of negotiation at home requires parents and teens to respect each other.
Dad turned and looked at mom. He gave his opinion in a very disparaging way. I watched as this confident mom I had grown to respect and admire literally cower in fear and shame. She did not say another word throughout the visit with their child. I myself was so dismayed, I did not say anything either.
This is where the art of negotiation at home comes in. Mom did not know the value she brought to the table. She felt she had no negotiating power. I have recently attended two conferences, one with the Maui Mastermind group and another with NAWBO, where the art of negotiation was discussed. Thinking back to this family, I realized that negotiation plays a vital role not only in the business world and workforce, but especially at home.
1. Believe in and respect yourself
Every parent must believe in themselves and what they contribute to the family. It’s quite apparent when a salesman tries to sell you a product they don’t believe in themselves, and you are less likely to buy from that person. The same is true at home. If you as the parent are not confident in who you are, how can you expect your teens to take you seriously when you try to discipline, correct or advise them? I’ve had some parents talk to me about the life they led as teenagers and the mistakes they made. They feel this somehow disqualifies them from being an effective parent. I tell parents to let their teens know that yes, I did make some mistakes growing up (and you don’t have to give all the specifics) but I’m much wiser now and very qualified to parent. Parents should never allow their spouse, significant other or teen to disrespect them because they made mistakes as teens. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, it’s what we do going forward that matters.
2. Do the research
You would never go for a job interview or start a new business without doing the research to find out more about the pay, benefits and requirements. Stay at home parents have significant value as well. It is a worthwhile exercise to discover how much you save the family by being at home. If you are available to work as a housekeeper, financial planner, chauffeur, confidant, volunteer and everything else that is in your job description, what would it cost for someone else to do that work? You are a valuable part of the team and you should be confident about that. For teens, do the research to find out who your teens are hanging out with? What are they doing on social media? Educate yourself about the internet and smartphones and all the lingo young people are using to cloak their behavior. I’m not advocating spying on your teens per se, but as Ameeta Jain of Teensafe says, this is about protecting your teens, not spying on them. Teensafe is a new App that lets parents read texts and helps them know what their children are doing on their Smartphones. She calls it “loving parenting.” So as a parent do the research. Keep abreast of what is going on in your teen’s life. Sometimes it can literally save their lives.
3. Don’t Ask Permission to Speak.
This is really important for moms. Just as women in business have to be assertive with their male counterparts, you should never feel like you need permission to talk to your spouse or teen. Be firm and respectful when getting your point across. Don’t be offensive. Sometimes, teens who are physically bigger than their parents will raise their voice or literally shout at a parent. This is not acceptable. Establish the playing field, the boundaries and “no go zones”. They do have a right to their opinion and you will listen, but teens must learn to be respectful and polite, no matter their size or how smart they are in school or in sports.
4. Establish your “No compromise” set point
Before you enter into any Negotiation, you should have established in your own mind, the point at which you will be willing to walk away. When parenting, what are you unwilling to compromise on? Is it your teen’s curfew, or making sure that chores and homework get done before hanging out with friends? It is really important to discuss your family values and expectations upfront with your teen, and be consistent otherwise it creates confusion for everyone.
5. Make it a Win Win for everyone
Nothing is worse than the family member who wants (or needs) to be right all the time; to win every little discussion. Be willing to let the unimportant stuff go sometimes. You are all on the same team. I love this phrase from My Big Fat Greek Wedding in which Mom said, “the man is the head but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head anyway she wants.” Sometimes even when the idea is yours, allow your family to believe that you arrived at the decision together. Your teen and spouse will be more likely to agree with you if they feel like they’re part of the decision making process. As much as you can, make every decision a “win win.” Let the other party feel proud of their ideas and contributions. Be willing to compromise.
The art of negotiating is a skill that has to be learned, both at work and at home. Know your worth and don’t allow anyone to put you down. Do the research and equip yourself with the tools to keep abreast of the times. Be willing to compromise on the unimportant stuff, but not on your family values. Finally, allow other family members to participate in decision making. As Sir David Frost said, “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.”
“Win/win is an attitude, not an outcome.” — Don Boyd