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The Three Modes of Negotiation

Relational Life Therapy Recognizes Three Modes of Negotiation: Invitation Request Demand

An Invitation is all about the other person. I “invite” you to do this and it is completely up to you if you participate or not. I was watching an online webinar that was pre-recorded. She invited the participants to do a breathing exercise. Again, pre-recorded – not live. She could not see us. She has no idea who is watching and how focused we are or are not. That is an invitation – no effect on the speaker at all. (hint, do not get this confused with an invitation to a party)

A Request is all about me. I am requesting you do something as a favor for me. You are allowed to say no. I may be sad or disappointed if you say no and I have to deal with that. I would place an invitation to a party actually in this category – you are still allowed to say no and not come to my party – and I will likely have an emotional response to that. If I care about you, I would like you at my party. If I am truly inviting you, I don’t care if you attend or not. If I am requesting your presence, then I do care if you attend or not. In my mind, I am now requesting people to attend my party. Maybe this is my issue alone.

A Demand, you are not allowed to say no. A Demand is only to be used in cases of safety, abuse, or addiction. Picture telling your small child “do not put your hand on the hot stove.” That’s a demand for safety. I may tell my abusive husband “do not touch me again or I will leave.” That’s a demand due to abuse. I may tell my alcoholic husband “do not drink again or I will leave.” That’s a demand due to addiction.

What I have a history of doing in my own marriage, is phrasing it as a request, when it is really a demand. And yes, there is a difference. And no, this isn’t semantics. This is when I say “can you please help me with dinner by making a salad?” And he and I both know that I’m going to be bitter and resentful if his answer is “no.” So, it’s really a demand (framed as a request), he’s not allowed to say no.

And yet, he IS allowed to say no. He is. It’s that simple. And I will deal with the disappointment if/when he does.

Basically, if following these guidelines, the partner is ALWAYS allowed to say no to the request – in non-abusive and non-addictive households. That is a bitter pill to swallow.

Btw – if you have a partner who really does say no A LOT, it might be time to consider therapy. Because in a cherishing relationship, the answer is frequently yes even when we don’t want to say yes. The trick is to only say yes when you can do so without resentment. You own your choice. Yes, sometimes my husband DOES make the salad.

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