Are you good at negotiation? I'm not. And it seems as if no one in my personal circle is either. Let me share two examples from literally the last four hours of my life.
In scenario one I'm planning to head to NY to visit my family, including four fantastic nieces and nephews. It has been two days since I've sent a potential schedule of activities for my short trip to the four adult members of my family - after several days of cajoling from them. In my note to them I suggest on the first night the kids might head to my hotel for picnic and swimming. Getting no feedback from anyone, I then text a sibling to suggest that maybe a picnic that first night at her kids' favorite playground might be better. Eight hours later, still nothing. (Eight hours is a long time to respond to a text given the speed with which people communicate nowadays, particularly when the other conversant is one who was eager for "a plan.") So then I call. This is how it goes (excerpted to reduce boredom).
Me: Did you get my text?
Sibling: Yeah. It has been really busy at work. I can talk a few minutes now.
Me: So what do you think? About picnic in the playground?
Sib: Well, I'd already told the kids about the pool (me - didn't really we had decided that - it was a suggestion) and they're really excited to see their cousins.
Me: Would your kids like some one-on-one time with me?
Sib: They're pretty excited about the pool and their cousins.
Me: So they don't want one-on-one time? Okay. And if they want to go in the pool we need to figure out how to do it so they aren't trooping in and out of our room. BMG has to do a three-hour conference call that night.
Sib: Well, I guess we can go to the park. I'll have to talk to the kids about it to adjust their expectations.
Me: I didn't say they COULDN'T go in the pool. I just said we'd need to do it in a way to prevent trooping in and out of the room.
Sib: They've never done that. (me - we once spent an entire day at the hotel pool, trooping in and out of the room. I've had her wet kids in my bed. not an issue, just not for this trip) I just want to talk with the kids before responding to you. I'm sure we can go to the park.
Me: Sib, are you listening to me? The pool is fine provided that BMG's call isn't disturbed.
In scenario two I'm following up with BMG on an offer he made to do very easy video editing for me at work; I need to have a title page and end page added to a video produced by colleagues at work. I've given him the movie file and asked him to try to get to it within the next 36 hours. I've moved on in my life, made dinner, washed dishes, started laundry, had a glass of wine, chatted with the neighbors, watched some TV. I've come back into the living room after being in the basement. The TV is on mute and BMG is staring at his computer (his usual pose).
BMG: What did they do this video in? Three frame, four frame?
BMG: This video what did they do it in?
Me: Are you talking to me? (I seriously thought he was video chatting with the guy who is his partner in a nascent - and awesome - video production company.)
BMG: YES! I'm talking to you. What did they do this video in?
Me: I don't know. Are you working on this now?
BMG: Yes. Come look at this.
I sit down.
BMG: So what do you need?
Me: Branding at the beginning and the end. I didn't know you were working on this right now. I can get you the stuff you need.
I head to my computer, six feet away.
BMG: So what do you want it to say?
Me: Are you typing? Didn't I just say I'd get it to you? I need a minute to get my head in the game. I didn't know I was going back to work right this moment.
In the first scenario both my sister and I assume at different times that simply because someone made a suggestion that suggestion needed to be the decision. This is so frustrating to me. In most cases I crave discussion about things like family plans. I crave the discussion because I want to hear what makes the hearts of my sisters, brother, mother, nieces and nephews go pitter pat. And I want to find a way to make the most people the most satisfied with our family time. To have one person's suggestion become the plan - sans conversation from others - means I (a) miss out on learning more from my siblings, and (b) we don't find a way to try to get what we all want. A child of divorced parents, I know I felt as if I had to do whatever my mom wanted me to do in order to keep her from leaving the family too. So my modus operandi is "Do whatever the other person says, no matter what. The risk is too great to counter with a different idea." Pretty sure other siblings operate the same way.
BMG knows this about me. And he has a very dominant personality. Not a classic alpha male, but he takes up an enormous amount of space - usually joyfully. But the second incident is a classic between us - he is ready to do what he wants to do right now and I (a) need to know exactly what he's doing, and (b) ready to ask "how high" when he says "jump." So my family background is great for him. In the midst of pulling the video content so he could finish his quickie for me (for which I am grateful), I actually sat at my desk and whimpered. I wished BMG had said, "I want to work on this now. I need X, Y and Z from you to get this done. When can you get this to me?" And then I could have said, "You're awesome! Thank you so much! Give me 20 minutes to pull it together starting right now." Instead, I was caught off guard, felt as if I needed to rush because the video editing boat was going to leave without me, and, worse of all, was jolted back into work mode when it is SO hard for me to wind down.
I crave a feeling of partnership with all of my loved ones, a feeling of collaboration that comes from a spirit of adventure.
So...what would you advise to help me get to this place, besides taking a daily dose of Xanax? Seriously. I need help here.