Improve Your Negotiations With The 5 Golden Rules.   LEARN THEM

“Hi – how are you?” my friend said to his teen daughter years ago after coming home from work. She erupted, yelled at him, stormed to her room and slammed the door. He turned to his wife and said “what did I do?” She replied “you talked.”

This example, shared by a long-time friend whose daughter now has teens of her own, typifies the challenges many of us parents face with teens. 

In last week’s column, I shared some strategies for this, including: focusing on your long-term goal of a well-adjusted adult; exercising patience; modeling good behavior; focusing on interests like safety and independence; using open-ended questions and phrases; and getting information before imposing consequences.

Here are some more.

– Balance their autonomy and choices with your knowledge, experience and opinions – they need to make their own mistakes and learn from them, within reason.

– A little planning before you engage may save a lot of heartache later. My wife and I almost always discuss significant issues first.

– Present a united front with your co-parent (kids can be very adept at working you against one another).

– Empathize and don’t be overly judgmental – remember when you were a kid, too.

– Help them empathize by asking what they would you do in your shoes.

– Each child is unique, so what worked with one may not work with another. But also rest assured that your child will bring up what you did with their sibling (precedent) if it’s favorable to them.

– Discuss major issues with them in an environment with sufficient time to deeply engage and effectively communicate without distractions like phones.

– Your tone and approach make a big difference, so be firm and direct but flexible.

– Make sure this is a two-way street and they get an opportunity to share their interests and needs.

– Offering teens several equally palatable choices or options that satisfy your mutual interests will often be empowering to them and effective for both of you.

– Keep your lines of communication open, as it will get worse if your child clams up.

– You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, so ask friends with well-adjusted kids for advice and/or dig deeper into the research from parenting experts.

On this last point, a friend emailed me after last week’s column recommending Lisa Damour, Ph.D, “a brilliant and eminently practical psychologist whose practice focuses on teenage girls. Check out her [New York Times bestselling] book “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood.”

I haven’t yet read Untangled – but it’s now on my list.

It was raining this past weekend, and my daughter and her friend asked me to join them in playing Wisconsinopoly (the Wisconsin version of Monopoly). It was fun and a great opportunity to see my daughter negotiate – with me and her friend!

Latz’s Lesson: Negotiating with teens may be the most challenging negotiation parents face on the home front. Getting it right might also be the most consequential one of our lives.

 * Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation, a national negotiation training and consulting company that helps individuals and organizations achieve better results with best practices based on the experts’ research. He can be reached at 480.951.3222 or

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