Tag Archives: conflict resolution

Marriage Negotiating Tips from FBI Top Negotiator

dog fight morguefileI came across this Forbes article that gleaned negotiation and communication tips from Gary Noesner, former Chief Negotiator for the FBI, a man who talked many a deranged individual out of their destructive plans, including David Koresh.

I was intrigued by the concept of the Paradox of Power he discusses. This means the harder you push, the more likely you are to be met with resistance. I think we know this deep down, and we display defensiveness and push-back when others come at us in an attacking manner. Yet, we sometimes forget that the key to a successful negotiation or outcome is often in the way we approach our spouse or coworker or child or boss or whomever we have an issue with. Instead of a calm, conciliatory manner, we may approach in an angry or hostile manner. Displaying power may work well in the animal kingdom to throw off predators, but it doesn’t work too well in family life.

What works? Staying calm. Listening. Acknowledging. Then moving forward toward a solution. Noesner says it very well here:

“If the communication skills we developed in the crisis negotiation arena are successful in convincing the most desperate people in the world to cooperate with a 90% success rate, then surely some of these you know active listening skills, these de-escalating cooperation building skills certainly have applicability in the world of business and in people’s personal and family lives. If you’ve got somebody you’re dealing with that’s angry, remain calm and in self-control, listen carefully, and acknowledge their point of view. Then, once you have a calmer atmosphere, you can work towards resolving the problem satisfactorily. I think that is a tremendous diffusing tool that people can use.”

I’m certainly going to try to take his advice to heart. What communication strategies seem to work best in your marriage? Do you find they help you at work also?

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Bypass Your Conflict to Jumpstart Love Again

“My heart skipped a beat.” “My heart was racing.” These are the comments of someone experiencing excited new love or infatuation. But these feelings don’t compare with the strong, steady heartbeat of a stable, loving marriage.

What about spouses who fall out of love? Sometimes a couple loses all but a glimmer of hope and thinks it won’t be possible to work through a stalemate that is blocking all loving feelings. Yet, bypassing the hurt can often be a much better strategy than working “through” it.

My father had open heart surgery yesterday, following the urgent discovery of two badly placed blockages that closed 95% of two arteries.  His surgeon didn’t fix the arteries by clearing the blockage; instead, he stopped the heart, grafted a new vein around the blockage and restarted the heart. Through miracle of technology, divine intervention, or the good fortune of his 63-year-old genes, he was sitting up and talking this morning. The doctors said working through the blockages was not a successful strategy, but the workaround was a success.

Michele Weiner-Davis, a progressive marriage counselor and author of the very popular book Divorce Busting, explains this “bypass” strategy in her book and in various writings. Whereas some therapists, especially in decades past, focus on a couples’ hurts and the deeply rooted causes and effects of negative behaviors, Weiner-Davis advocates a couple change strategies entirely to focus on a time when they were happier and on behaviors that they know in the past made their spouse happier.

For example, a wife might recall that in their newlywed years they took off for fun weekend excursions, so she might plan a similar getaway to reconnect. A husband might recall how much his wife appreciated it when he paid her more attention and was a more active father. Then, he might choose to adopt those behaviors and not focus on a conflict they were having or a negative trait he sees in his wife. Soon, the feelings are following their actions.

The sad fact is many conflicts we have with our spouse will NEVER be solved. (That’s true of all marriages.) But if your marriage is 95% blocked and you see no way out, find a work-around; don’t throw in the towel. If your life were on the line, you’d find a skilled surgeon. You’d take risks. You’d try experimental treatments. You might even change your lifestyle.

You can indeed restart the loving feelings if you reach down to locate the fond memories and experiences of your past, and use them to graft a bypass around your problem.

I’m celebrating my 15-year anniversary today (happy anniversary, sweetie!) to a guy who isn’t perfect, but he’s pretty close. We have, of course, had our problems and frustrations. But I have such a wellspring of positive experiences with him from which to draw upon.

I can cause myself to have more positive feelings toward him when recall the great days—strolling through Paris, exploring wine country, dancing with our children, celebrating in Vegas—than when I think about our struggles or his perceived faults. In actuality, thinking of these positive times makes my heart skip a beat.

If you’re having a rough time or a difficult conflict with your spouse, change strategies and work on a bypass. Have you ever tried this? If so, was it successful or not?

Photo Credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

How Can Married Couples Overcome Gridlock?

We’ve covered strategies to deal with everyday marital conflict in other articles, but there are times when couples appear to be deadlocked on some important issue. The argument may spill out into other issues, and the couple may feel and express negativity, contempt and sadness toward one another.

According to research by Dr. John Gottman, these distressed couples are “gridlocked” and are facing perpetual, recurring issues. It may be coming out as arguments about how to spend their time or money. However, the arguing couple may be experiencing something deeper–conflicting values and dreams for their future. Basically, behind each position is someone with a dream for his or life as an individual and as a couple. When those dreams and values conflict, people tend to dig in their heels.

Gottman has used a strategy in his research with distressed couples called the “dreams-within-conflict” intervention, which helps the couples to examine together the underlying histories, philosophies, and life dreams of each person/position. The goal is for spouses to see the dreams behind their spouse’s position, and to find a way to honor one another’s dreams within the conflict. (1)

So, if you’re butting heads on the same topics again and again, it may be time for you to look at little deeper. Talk about your dreams for the future and how they can be compatible.

Think about frequent arguments you and your spouse may have. A compassionate approach toward one another may help you find a successful resolution, or at least a compromise. Do you and your spouse have similar goals and dreams? If so, that may bode well for your future. If not, look for more common ground and shared goals to work toward together.

(1) The Marriage Clinic, by John Gottman, www.gottman.com