Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dan's Yes to No Checklist for negotiating in poly relationships

This is a terrific discussion tool developed by a friend of mine and his wife. He was kind enough to share it with me so I could bring it to my discussion on Negotiations and Boundaries. Thanks, Dan!

A couple of years back, I developed this little communications tool to use in relationship negotiations.

The idea of the spectrum is that it gives a 1 to 10 rating of the intensity between "no" and "yes". It can be useful because not only will it help you gauge your own intensity, it can make it easier to express your position when you’re talking about an emotionally charged subject. So, here’s the scale:

1. "No, and I never want to talk about this again."
2. "No, but you could ask again in the future."
3. "No, but I can see a possible path towards yes, so let’s discuss it."
4. "No for today, but my mind is open. Let’s take our time and discuss it."
5. "No for today, but I am close to yes. Let’s talk about some remaining issues or obstacles."
6. "Yes, but I’m not comfortable with it."
7. "Yes, but with severe limitations that may not be what you want."
8. "Yes, within broad limits that you seem to be comfortable with."
9. "Yes, you have my blessing with no limits."
10. "Yes, and I’m actively encouraging you. Why are we still talking instead of acting?"

When you are afraid to ask your partner something, it’s typically because you think their answer will be #1. Maybe it will be. Personally, I think it’s worth asking and knowing rather than just assuming. If the answer is #3 or above, you can actually start talking about it.

It’s important to remember is that not all things require #10 to do. If I wanted to blow some money on a new camera, my partner might be at #6, but I would feel OK doing it anyway. However, if I wanted to get hand-fasted to another woman, I would need a #10 from my partner to feel OK doing it. Ultimately we decided that most actions and relationships in the poly realm require a #7 or #8 as the minimum to act.

It’s also important to understand that not everything will move up the scale into the "yes" range, and that’s OK. This is not a tool to persuade someone towards yes. It’s a tool to better communicate your position on a particular subject.

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