Is Getting What You Want Being Manipulative or Finding Common Ground?

manipulationWhen my husband, Tyko, read my post on how to get your partner to take you out for dinner, he said to me “So that’s how you manipulate me…”

He said it with a chuckle.

But it got me thinking…

Manipulating or Collaborating?

What, if anything, is the difference between being manipulative and being a great partner?

In the getting your husband to take you out to dinner model (hereafter dubbed the “Steak Dinner” approach), you come into the conversation with a specific agenda.

What’s your intention?  You don’t want to cook dinner.

But you’d be willing to accept one of many outcomes as long as you don’t have to cook.

  • You’d be happy ordering food from a restaurant and having it delivered.
  • You’d be happy if your partner cooks while you put your feet up.
  • You’d even be satisfied with zapping some leftovers.
  • And you’d certainly be willing to eat almost anything out. Steak’s great, but Chinese, Mexican… even KFC would do.

In the Steak Dinner model, you don’t state your desire right up front.

You don’t walk in and say:

Honey, I had a crummy day. I’m tired. Take me out to dinner.

Instead, you take a few minutes to find out about your partner’s dinner desires first.

Honey, what do you feel like eating tonight?

Yes, you do have an ulterior motive for your question — you don’t want to cook.

But you’re not being misleading. You’re just being thoughtful, considerate and smart!

As long as you aren’t manipulating your partner into doing something that will not serve his interests too, there’s no harm in framing your own desires around his wants.

Effective Askers Find Common Ground

Effective askers shape their requests around the other person’s interests. They don’t insist on getting their way.

When you find common ground, you get what you want and your partner gets what he wants. And everybody’s happy.

Leading with your desires may seem more authentic or straightforward. But with that approach, you’re likely to create resistance right off the bat.

And then, so much for  your steak dinner!

Use the Steak Dinner Approach to Ask for Anything

The Steak Dinner approach works when you ask for just about anything.  Think about asking for a raise or interviewing for a new job. Think about asking for a day off. Think about asking for help with the kids. Think about asking for money.

Yes, the Steak Dinner approach works like a charm for fundraising. Stay tuned for more posts about using this approach when you ask for gifts.

Meanwhile, Tyko…watch out…before you know it you’ll be agreeing to take me to Rome for a vacation. 🙂

TryTry ThisThis

In contrast to the Steak Dinner TRY THIS, try asking your partner to go out tonight by leading with your own desires. Instead of starting with curiosity about what he’d like, just flat out tell him what you want. See what happens.

Watch for an initial moment of resistance. Then think about what might have happened if you had shaped your request by probing about what he wants.

When have you found yourself resisting someone else’s request? Share your story in the comments.

  • Dawn Wolfe

    Brava!