Friday, September 2, 2011

What Is Our Deal?

I teach a workshop called Communicating Nondefensively.  During the workshop, participants identify a statement that made them feel defensive.  It's a corporate workshop, so people usually use examples from their bosses, clients, or co-workers; but they might also quote their friends or parents.  At a recent workshop, one young woman said that this statement from her mother makes her feel defensive.

"When are you going to get a real job?"

She was doing an unpaid internship with a nonprofit company.  I asked her if she had a "deal" with her mother - an agreement in which her mother supports her during this phase of her career.  She said she did.  I asked her whether the deal had been articulated.  Were they both subscribing to the same deal?  She wasn't sure.

My aunt told me this:  "Every relationship is a deal.  The problem is you don't always know what the deal is.  I was once in the hospital getting surgery and my husband told me he had to fly to South America for his work.  That's when I understood our deal."

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