Negotiating skills

Negotiating skills

Imagine your mom has fallen for the third time this year. To you, it’s obvious she needs more support, perhaps home care. Your sister thinks mom should come live with her in another state. Mom’s finances are slim and she doesn’t want to leave her home. Consider these tips from seasoned negotiators:

Prepare ahead for a discussion

  • What do you fear the most? Be honest: Losing mom’s approval? Your sister “winning” (again!)? Awareness of your fears will help you monitor your sensitivities and reactions.
  • What do you believe they fear the most? Your sister may fear losing her status as the “insightful one.” Your mother may fear losing her beloved neighborhood.
  • Come to the meeting calm and centered. Have a strategy, such as deep breathing, to help you remain grounded.

During the meeting

  • Remember to smile. It also shows up in your voice.
  • Listen more. Talk less. People reveal more or offer more during an uncomfortable silence.
  • What is valid about their point of view? Cultivate nonjudgmental curiosity. New insights may emerge. Is your sister’s nursing background helpful? Does mom care more about independence than safety?
  • Take your ego out of the equation. Remove any relationship baggage. It’s not the person, just the issues.
  • If you find everyone digging in, rise higher. Getting above the weeds may enable you to see new options. Ask yourself:
    • How can I address their fears?
    • What are our shared goals, beyond the details of the “solution”?
    • Is there a way to simplify? The simplest solution is often the best solution.
    • What might a win look like for all of us?
    • How can I be generous? Small gestures can engender trust and get a conversation moving again.
  • Consider an objective third-party facilitator. An Aging Life Care Manager can lead a family meeting. You can also hire an eldercare mediator.