Negotiation and Fair Fighting for Families

Negotiating An Ideal Way to Have Win-Win Situations in Your Family

Negotiation is the ideal way to resolve conflict. It is a shared process and conflicts are changed from something to be fought over to a problem that must be solved.

Negotiation is the ideal way to solve conflict because it is a shared process with a focus on both parties getting their needs met. Conflicts are changed to problem-solving exercises. Rather than fighting face-to-face, a problem is solved side-by-side to create win-win situations.

Family Negotiations for Win-Win Outcomes

As outlined in Parenting Skills: Negotiating with Kids, negotiation is a process that has several steps. First, the participants agree to listen to each other and work together to solve the problem. Remember, entering into a discussion does not mean you have to agree with the other person’s point of view. Simply making the effort to understand each other is often sufficient to produce win-win results.

Second, the problem must be clearly defined. Each person relates his perspective while the other listens without interrupting. Third, each person states her interests, that is, her reasons for wanting the problem solved. Fourth, both participants create options for solving the problem that addresses all interests. Finally, options are evaluated to see what will work and if they can be improved. An option is chosen and hopefully, the problem is solved. Should things not work out, the process can be repeated.

Fair Fighting Is a Special Negotiation

To negotiate with a peer or equal is all well and good for most people. However, for parents it often seems like negotiating with children means giving up some of your necessary power and authority. In addition, kids are going to test and push limits when they think the time is right. Before you know it there is a big family fight and lots of hurt feelings.

These situations can be handled more smoothly if advice from The Best Divorce Help for Moms and Dads is heeded. It calls for the whole family, mom and dad too, to adopt a set of rules for “fair fighting”. Fair fighting is similar to the negotiating process in that there should be no winner or loser. The goal is not only to solve problems but to resolve feelings as well. Here is an example of fair fighting rules:

  • Identify the problem.
  • Focus on the problem.
  • Attack the problem not the person. Say “I feel” not “you are”.
  • Listen with an open mind. Don’t interrupt, and ask for clarification when appropriate.
  • Treat a person’s feelings with respect. Don’t belittle or be judgmental.
  • Take responsibility for your actions. Say “I’m sorry” when you’re wrong.

Fair Fighting: Conflict Resolution Within Rules

As with many athletic contests, there are “fouls” to be avoided. They include name-calling, blaming, sneering, not listening, getting even, bringing up the past (anything over 24 hours old is unusable garbage – no garbage dumping!), threats, pushing, hitting, put-downs, bossing, making excuses, not taking responsibility.

Remember, kids will have a more difficult time sticking to the rules than adults. Especially so if they are very young. That doesn’t mean that if kids bail on the whole idea of fair fighting mom and dad are free to bail as well. Try to remember who the adults are here. Just as power and authority were described as necessary at times, good role modeling is necessary too. Following the rules when others do not is a way to model keeping your cool and carrying out conflict resolution processes until problems are solved.