- Prepare. Make some notes about the situation and your feelings. Write about where you are, where you want to be, and how you might get there.
- Call a meeting. Let your partner know that the purpose of the meeting is to brainstorm and find a solution that works for both of you.
- Set the stage. Sit down at a time when you are both clear headed and able to give this important conversation the time and energy it deserves.
- Speak from the heart. Focus on finding a solution that works for both of you. This is collaboration.
- Listen, listen, listen. Listen as if you are an outside observer with no prior knowledge of the situation. Twenty years in the mediation business has taught me that there are at least two sides to every story. You may be very surprised when you hear the rest of the story.
- Give yourselves time to think, process the information, and cool down.
- Don't leave the issue unresolved. An agreement to disagree is resolution. Leaving the situation open sets you up for future fights.
- If all else fails, hire a professional to help you. Often an outside opinion sheds light on your blind spots and helps reach agreement. Consider bringing in a mediator.
Elinor Robin, "The Relationship Mediator," has more than 18 years of experience in mediation while working within the public and private sectors.