According to the Dictionary, an agreement is, “a negotiated arrangement between two parties as to a course of action.” That means a dis-agreement is the absence of an agreement.
“Can you attend a Zoom meeting at 3:30 pm on Friday Oct. 2?”
“Yes. Please send me an electronic invitation with the coordinates, and I’ll be there on Oct 2 at 3:30 pm.”
Fairly typical agreement these days, isn’t it?
In your profession, I bet you make lots of agreements
regularly, don’t you? You agree to:
– start your workday at a specific time.
– meet clients at a specific place and time.
– complete projects by specific dates and times.
Agreements are a required, necessary, and effective way to run a business and keep a job. They are often unwritten, yet when well communicated, they act as a contract between two parties to ensure clarity and success. When the agreements are kept, the relationship grows stronger. When the agreements are not kept (dis-agreements), trust is diminished. With dis-agreements, especially if it happens again and again, you may choose to refrain from working with that person/company again.
Guess what? It works exactly the same in your relationship with your partner at home.
In our experience coaching with hundreds and hundreds of couples, the challenge typically is not the agreement, but clear communication and mutual understanding about the specifics of the agreement.
When the specifics of the agreement are not clear and agreed to by both people, it causes a range of results from resentment and resistance to anger and abuse. Usually, dis-agreements (lack of agreements) are about time, finances, and roles in the relationship.
Recently, Carol and I were coaching with a couple who were having major challenges in their relationship. Although they both stated they loved each other and wanted to be together, they were experiencing anger, yelling, silent treatment (ignore-ance), criticism, and other forms of disrespectful behaviour.
At the core, these attack behaviours were the result of a lack of clear, conscious, specific agreements over simple, basic things in their relationship. Both were feeling victimized, un-cared for, un-heard, and un-loved.
6 Tips – a Strategy for Success
To ensure clear, conscious, specific agreements and eliminate confusion, unmet expectations, and anger, we invite you to follow these simple steps. In a nutshell, this is about becoming personally accountable for your results.
1. Honest, open communication. Be willing to talk about upcoming activities and tasks, and especially those that need attention by both of you. Carol and I have several scheduled weekly meetings to share these things, so we both know we’re on the same page.
2. Explore options and possibilities. Share your perspectives respectfully, and listen attentively to each other, with a willingness to truly understand the similarities and differences. We invite you to set your ego aside, let-go of your need to be right, and look at the task or situation as if it were on the table in front of you. Brainstorm the many alternatives available to you. Often this process will open dialogue that leads to far better solutions than either of you thought possible.
3. Make a clear, conscious agreement that you both feel good about. Include quantifiable specifics that may include date, time, location, activity, quality of work, dollars, results, etc. Ensure that you both feel good about it. In other words, don’t make an agreement out of duty, guilt, shame, for approval, or as a form of manipulation.
4. Repeat the agreement, including the specifics, and for clarification, ask, “Is this our agreement?” Ensure both concur to all parts of it.
5. Keep your agreement. Invest the necessary time, attention, and intention to ensure you follow through.
6. If something comes up that will not allow you to keep your agreement, immediately connect with your partner and re-negotiate another agreement. Renegotiation requires going through steps 1 to 5 again because you are making a new agreement.
Not only is this an important process in your relationship with your partner, it is super important in your relationship with self, which relates to our Heart of Relationships model. Most of us have not been taught, or had this process modeled for us.
Yes, this might seem overly mechanical or “corporate-like” yet as you develop this habit, it will become second nature. The motivation to continue will be the powerful results you’ll experience.
Consciously making and keeping specific agreements with yourself and your life-partner will set you free. Trust will grow and you’ll find yourself more focused, productive, and effective, not only in your relationship at home, but in all areas of life.
Will it work for you?
Regardless of the quality of your relationship, we guarantee that if you consciously and consistently apply this one strategy, it will help you to experience more happiness, contentment, and success in your relationship with your life-partner and yourself.
We’d love to hear about your results as you apply this solution.