I found myself in a difficult situation this past evening. My wife was planning on going into the city to meet up with some of her friends, and she wanted me to go. Being it was a work night, I didn’t want to.
And so the negotiation began (in fairness, it was more argument than negotiation). Her premise, and rightly so, was that she didn’t want to go into the city by herself, and some of the people who were going to be in attendance were bringing their spouses. My premise, and also rightly so, was that I didn’t want to go into the city on a work night, and that a number of people in attendance weren’t bringing their spouses. In addition, since we had a date night planned for the end of the week, I didn’t want to bring in a babysitter twice in one week (it isn’t exactly low-cost).
How did it resolve itself? I basically gave in, with regrets. It wasn’t a decision I wanted to make, and I’m still not comfortable with it, but I felt that my wife had more to lose (driving herself into the city, being out by herself) then I did (tired the next day at work and having to pay more for a second babysitter).
What did I learn? First that I’m not a great negotiator and I tend to regularly give in. But, more importantly, that there are many times when we can’t get what we want, and we have to be okay with it not always being our way.
Was this the right decision? Who knows. And, in fairness, right decisions are usually never right for everyone; someone is often left thinking the decision would have been better had it been something else. Of course, relationships require us to put the needs of others before our own, and the best leaders realize that this is a necessity.
I clearly still need some growing to do in this area, but I’m encouraged by the fact that I recognize the difficulty of these situations and that I am beginning to understand the nuances of not only give and take, but also costs and benefits.