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Dealing with other people can be difficult at times. The difficulty may arise with a spouse, a friend, a parent, a child or a coworker. The difficulty may involve making a request of the other person. It may be saying “no” and setting a limit. It may involve resolving tension in the relationship.

It can be challenging to maintain a balance between expressing your viewpoint clearly and doing so in a respectful and caring manner. Learning to negotiate constructively with others can reduce tension and stress and strengthen important relationships. Here are some suggestions to help with this:

  1. Affirm the other person (his/her viewpoint or his/her importance to you).  Ex: “I know you care about me.”
  2. Describe the problem neutrally. (Don’t use pejorative, evaluative language.)  Ex: “But when you were upset with me, you hung up the phone on me.”
  3. Tell your reaction to the problem.  Ex: “And that really hurt my feelings.
  4. Request a behavioral change.  Ex: “In the future, please tell me what has upset you and don’t hang up on me.”
  5. Affirm any effort the other person makes to show he/she understands what you have said.  Ex: “I appreciate your apology.”