Coupling up comes with a variety of challenges, key among them making joint decisions. This only gets more complex when children get into the picture. Two different people with different backgrounds and views having to make decisions that work for both of them, that even with compromise leaves both of them feeling satisfied. Here are some tips for making decisions together.
Consider the source
So many of the ideas that inform our decision-making are based on views we were exposed to growing up. When you factor in the different backgrounds you and your partner have, conflict is assured. In this case, consider the source of your views and the validity of it. Be conscious of this influence on you and your partner and be willing to let go of unhelpful, unhealthy thinking patterns.
Be honest about how you really feel. This is especially important for people with people-pleasing personality types who default to what the other person wants. Be honest with your partner and create an environment where they can be open about what they think. Go into it with an open mind, ready to listen to the other person.
Think of decision-making as a triangle
People often view joint decision-making as a line with you on one end and your partner on the other then you both move to somewhere near the middle. Don’t do that. Think of joint decision-making as a triangle, with you and your partner as two of the ends and the decision as the third point. It’s less compromising and negotiating which have a negative connotation and more viewing the decision as a whole new collaborated on idea.
Ask questions instead of making statements
Be curious about your partner’s position and resist the impulse to make assumptions about understanding why they feel as they do. Ask questions to know their wants and needs, and to understand what ideas are driving their thought process. For example, you can ask, “Can you tell me why you feel so strongly about XYZ?”
Start with a spitball session
Decision-making can be tense and high stakes, making it harder to come to settle on a choice that you’re both behind. For that reason, consider having a spitballing session where you just talk about the issue and your different views and feelings without feeling the pressure to come to a decision quickly. It also helps to know where each person is coming from without the pressure or high stakes.
Write it down
Putting things down in writing clarifies things for everyone involved. Start by identifying what the issue in question is so that you’re both on the same page. Next, you could talk about why this decision is valuable and meaningful to both of you. What is the goal you’re working towards? Once you’ve come to an agreement, write that down as well.
The goal is not to get your partner to reluctantly agree to shift to your point of view. At the end of it, you want both parties to be enthusiastic about the joint decision. Caring about your partner’s happiness is the cornerstone of successful joint decision-making. Mutual happiness and satisfaction should always be the goal.
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