11 Brilliant Ways To Effectively Make Your Case In Your Relationship
Being in a healthy relationship means compromising with your partner, whether it's over something small, like what you'll watch on Netflix, or something big, like where you plan to rent your next apartment. But there will likely come a time when it'll be necessary to win them over, and knowing how to persuade your partner to see your side of things, in a healthy way that is free of manipulation, will come in handy.
And really, this is a life skill that can come in handy in a variety of situations. "If you want to ... get others to embrace your ideas and vision, persuasion skills are essential," certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle. "Even if what you want is inherently valuable, if you can’t get others to see that, you’ll never find any success."
By knowing what to say, and how to say it, you'll be increasing your chances of getting your partner to see your side of things — or, at the very least, reaching a fair middle ground. "Remember, persuasion isn’t manipulation," Bennett says. "You’re just making the best, most effective effort possible to convey your position. There’s nothing manipulative about being accurate, concise, and effective with your words." And, there's nothing wrong with sticking to your guns, and standing up for something you believe in. Here are 11 skills experts say are super useful when trying to make your case effectively including with your partner.
1. Get Their Attention
Since it's kind of tough to persuade someone who isn't fully listening, you should start by sitting down and truly getting your partner's attention. And one surefire way to do that is by piquing their curiosity.
"For example, [say something like] 'I have an amazing idea, you’re never going to guess what it is!'" relationship and life coach Laurie-Anne King tells Bustle. "You can also just straight up ask for their attention [by saying] 'I have something important I need to talk to you about.' This lets your partner know that they are getting into an important conversation and need to be all ears."
2. Be Enthusiastic
If you can show how much something means to you, it'll be to your benefit. As Bennett says, "If you want to win someone over, you have to demonstrate that you authentically believe in your position. Your authenticity and enthusiasm will help you 'sell' your vision."
3. Stick To Your Guns
If you're not used to sticking up for what you want, it may feel strange to own your request. But sticking to your proverbial guns is half the battle when it comes to persuasion. "Say what you need," couples therapist David Woodsfellow, PhD, of the The Woodsfellow Institute for Couples tells Bustle. "Tell them why it’s important to you." Whether it's as simple as showing your partner that a cable subscription is essential to your lives, or it's something bigger, like letting them know why it's important you spend certain holidays with your family, it's key to have conviction behind what you are saying so your partner knows to listen. And hopefully that'll help your partner to understand.
4. Use A "Soft Start"
Approaching your partner in an even-keeled way will help prevent them from putting up their defenses. And one way to do that is by using "I" statements, and keeping the focus away from them.
"Using soft startups (e.g. 'I am feeling, I was wondering,' etc.) ... permits a soft conversation where the speaker shares their feelings kindly, not crudely," marriage and family therapist Dr. Saudia L. Twine, PhD, NCC, LLPC, LLMFT, tells Bustle. It really does work like a charm.
5. Focus On The Positives
In order to get your partner to see your side of things, make sure you focus on the positives — especially all the ways your idea will benefit the two of you. "People respond very poorly to negativity and shame," says Bennett. "Focus instead on the positive benefits your idea or position will bring ... If they can clearly see the positive benefits, they’ll be more likely to eagerly embrace your position." This may be especially helpful if you are trying to recruit your partner to your side on something big — like moving cities together.
6. Offer A Compromise
"If you can offer something of value to other people, they will be more likely to give you what you want in return," says Bennett. "Even small gestures can go a long way." You might, for example, tell your partner that they can pick the movie, if you can pick the restaurant. This way you can bring your partner to your side, while also compromising.
7. Point Out What's In It For Them
Another way to make your case effectively is to really drive home all the ways your plan — whatever it may be — will benefit for your partner. "Frame the opportunity in the benefits that it will have for your partner or for both of you as a couple and talk about them," says psychologist Douglas Weiss, PhD. "Don’t assume that they will naturally connect the dots on their own." This way, you can more productively express yourself within your relationship while letting your partner know all decisions you're making have them in mind as well.
8. Ask Them To Contribute Some Ideas
Sometimes, when people feel cornered or overly pressured, they can become less likely to agree. So go ahead and give your partner some input by suggesting they add their own ideas to the mix. "Ask your partner to give you three or more ideas to solve the issue at hand," says Weiss. "Discuss the ones you agree on [and] it will feel and be more collaborative." For example, you may have been wanting to get a dog for a while, but your partner isn't sure about the responsibility. Allowing them to contribute their ideas on ways to make things work will allow them to feel heard in the process.
9. Be Honest
"Sometimes saying 'I really need your help here' is the most persuasive of all," psychotherapist Elayne Savage, PhD tells Bustle. "And by explaining what you need in clear how-to steps you have a better chance of getting a positive response."
10. Be Mindful Of Body Language
In order to connect, you might want to express that physically by opening up with your body language. "Turning towards your partner (responding to their cues for connection with acceptance and warmth) ... makes a person feel validated and thus more open and giving when you want something," says Twine. Of course, this isn't intended to be manipulative. By focusing on body language that allows your partner to know you're listening to their perspective, they'll be more open to discussion with you about what you want.
11. Foster Your Connection
It can be tough to give each other what you need if you're both upset, or feeling unfilled in your relationship. So in order to foster an environment where you can both listen to each other, it'll be important to work on your relationship.
Your partner will hear you out more if your partnership feels equal, and they feel cared for as well, certified relationship therapist Deborah Fox, MSW tells Bustle. "A great way to build this feeling of connection is to frequently share what you appreciate about your partner." This way they know that whatever decision you're looking to make with them, that you have their best interest at heart as well.
While there are times in a relationship where persuasion and compromise may feel necessary, always remember that what is decided between you and your partner is something you're both comfortable with. All partnerships have elements of give and take, but no partner should ever seek to manipulate the other into getting what they want.