Being More Diplomatic In Your Relationship
Diplomacy is important in all areas of life. The diplomatic person usually sees a better outcome than the aggressive person. What you have to remember is that, any time you want anything from someone—an apology, a change in behavior, an elimination of behavior, an admittance of fault—nobody ever wants to feel like they are losing. Nobody wants to feel like they are making too big of a compromise, or that they are being stepped all over. This came up recently when my boyfriend and I had to evacuate our apartment several days for construction and then our landlord wanted to raise our rent. I wanted to tell my landlord we could sue him for the lost days during construction; my boyfriend (he’s more diplomatic than I am) suggested that, instead, we offer to agree to a new three-year lease if they keep the rent the same. In his idea, nobody felt like they were losing or being forced to do anything they didn’t wan to do. My idea probably would have gotten us evicted so, I’m glad I listened to my boyfriend. I’ve learned a lot from him about diplomacy actually. Here are ways to be more diplomatic in your relationship.
Always ask for explanations
Always give your partner a chance to explain himself. If he’s done something that upset you, ask him why he did it, or what his thinking was. Everyone appreciates a chance to “show their work” (like from the days of grade school) and sometimes, if you let them, you can avoid a fight.
Really listen when someone explains himself, or tries to apologize. Don’t just wait for the person to finish talking. And, thank him for explaining himself. People put their pride aside a lot to explain their bad actions.
Take time to think
If you don’t know what to say right now, don’t say anything. Say the person has given you a lot to think about, and step away for a bit. Truly diplomatic people know that sometimes, when emotions are high, it’s best not to respond right away.
Ask if the issue will repeat itself
There are a lot of times in life when, an upsetting event occurs that will probably never occur again, or rarely occur again. For example, when you, your partner, and his sibling and his partner, all go to stay with their family and your partner didn’t claim the good bedroom for you (you have sleep issues). You—all of you—may not be under the same roof again for years to come. So it’s not a fight worthy picking—you see?
Think of a net benefit
Rather than thinking of what’s best for you, ask yourself what’s best for everyone. Remind yourself that if getting what you want will directly make your partner unhappy, then you won’t even be happy. Ask yourself which outcome will make the most people happy.
Consider if you’ve also been guilty
Before getting upset with your partner, ask yourself if you’ve ever made the same mistake or a similar mistake. You probably have, and remembering that will humble you, and help you be less upset.
Set reasonable expectations
When you set expectations, ask yourself what is actually reasonable to expect of the other person. Don’t require things of your partner that would make him bend over backward or would make his life difficult. Don’t just ask yourself what you want; ask yourself what is doable for your partner.
Don’t use negative language
Avoid negative language like “fault” “bad” “wrong” and “blame.” Nobody responds well to these words and they have a way of stopping a conversation completely.
Never assume intention
Nobody likes it when you assume what their intention was. For example, nobody likes it when you say, “You were trying to hurt me by doing this” or “You were just looking out for yourself when you did this.” You really don’t know what their intention was.
Often, the first thing someone thinks when you point out their mistake is that you aren’t appreciating all the times they did the thing the right way. So, it goes a long way to acknowledge those times, before discussing the current mistake.
Consider the other’s background
Always try to keep your partner’s history in mind when he does something that bothers you. What was his childhood like? His last relationship? What are his parents like? Remember that this mistake doesn’t exist in a vacuum; your partner’s experiences led him to do this.
Evaluate energy levels and capability
Don’t ask yourself whose turn it is to do this or that (pick the restaurant, clean the car). Ask yourself who really needs the break today, or who has the energy level and mental capacity to do it. Don’t keep score. Be a team, and put the person most capable of the task at that moment up to it.
Apologize even when you’ve done nothing wrong. Remember that apologizing doesn’t have to mean admitting a mistake; it can simply mean feeling sympathetic to your partner’s pain.
It goes a long way to just ask yourself what the other person is going through, what their day is like, and what else is going on in their lives when they disappoint you. It doesn’t excuse what they’ve done, but it helps you calm down and react diplomatically.
Rework your idea of “winning”
Winning doesn’t mean proving you’re right. It doesn’t mean getting what you and you alone want. Think about winning as a situation by which everyone walks away feeling respected and heard.