It’s Friday evening, you’ve survived the crazy traffic, without losing your temper or mojo. An hour later, after a quick shower and meal, you drop your tired frame on the couch and mindlessly watch your favorite soap.
Then, ominously, a dark figure creeps up on you. In that creepy way that makes you lose balance and almost fall off the couch. It’s your teen. ‘Mum, mum, please say yes… I need to go for a 2 night sleepover out of town, with my pals’. Note that there is no ‘hi, how was your day?’ greeting. Remember, back in the day, when we badly needed something from our parents, we’d almost lick their feet to get it. These days, they shoot straight.
Anyway, back to your story, did you hear ‘out of town’? ‘Pals’? Yes. Pals you have never seen or heard of, until now. So under 10 seconds, the once peaceful evening is quickly disintegrating to flakes of chaos right before your eyes. ‘But Mum, eeeeveryone is going!’ Jesus. You hate the over emphasis on the ‘e’. Is that really necessary. ‘Now who is everyone?’ you ask. Clearly, you missed the memo.
Then the pleading session begins. Brace yourself. It’s a cycle of pleading and begging and begging and pleading. A sharp line of ache makes it way slowly down your forehead. The tv starts to blur and room suddenly feels hot and stuffy.
They are now promising to do anything you ask. Anything? You shake your head in disbelief. How about deep cleaning the entire house for the rest of the year? Then you remember it is the 29th of December. 2 days will certainly not make a visible dent in their morale.
The pleading is now really getting into your nerves, so with all the will power you can muster, you put your big boy pants on and hotly whisper under your breath; ‘let’s talk about this later’. It is a beeline to the bathroom for fear that you will get unhinged or behave in a manner that suggests you are not so grown up, after all.
Sounds remotely familiar? Maybe it just happened this past week and truth be told, you did not fair very well. In fact, you were a real mess!
So here’s how to a few tips on how to negotiate successfully and stay sane; next time. Of course, there will be a next time. Don’t even bother to bet on it.
- Give each other space – away from the conversation. Staying within the same space really sucks up all the air and suffocates the room. Bad energy is toxic!
- Do not insist on unnecessary banter. Right now, they really hate you, you are like the devil in a dress. Talk about other things; if possible. The dark night, the troublesome neighbor’s dog, whatever.
- Stew over the issue. Give yourself time to consider at the issue later. Soberly, without pressure. If need be, consult a mature adult.
- Revisit the issue at an appropriate time, when you are in a stable emotional space.
- Listen, without interrupting, so that they feel heard. Ask for clarification when needed. Look out for the nonverbal as well.
- Don’t lecture! Briefly explain your position. Remember that long winded monologues can be smelt out a mile away. You voice will heard but not listened to.
- Make the call and bring the matter to a conclusion.
Remember, always take charge. Be the leader. It is not a contest of wills, but of authority. So you must take control of the situation or you will be dragged down to the level of your teen. Worse still, a toddler.
At the end of the day, you will have earned their respect and ‘parenteen’ brownie points for improving your negotiation skills!