Making sound agreements makes your life easier -
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One of the complaints I often hear is this: “So-and-so does not respond to my emails.” My question back is, “What is your agreement with So-and-so about responding to emails?” Invariably I’m told that there is no agreement in place.
As much as one might assume that people should respond to emails in a timely manner, that doesn’t mean that they will. . . unless there is an agreement in place. If not, then your options are to complain, hope the person gets the hint, nag him or try to work around the unworkable situation.
The simple fact is, agreements solve problems before they arise and make interacting with others a lot easier.
Why don’t we make agreements?
• Because it seems like too much trouble
• Because it’s easier to just complain and feel like a victim
• Because we don’t know what to do when an agreement is broken, so why bother making one?
As an alternative to complaining or feeling victimized, try this experiment:
Think of something that’s not working between you and someone else. Ask the person involved if she will make an agreement with you that will help you both reach your goals.
Then follow these three steps to making agreements:
1. Figure out what agreements you want.
• Propose an agreement such as, “Let’s agree to respond to emails from each other within 24 hours.”
• If your partner says okay, write the agreement down.
• If he says no, then negotiate. For example, “Okay then, let’s say that within 24 hours we will respond even if it’s to say, ‘I’m really busy now, but will answer you soon.’”
2. After the agreement is written, send it to her so you both have a copy.
• You want the agreement in writing so you can refer to it and change it as necessary as time goes on. Agreements are written on paper -- not in stone. They can be revised as time goes on.
3. If one of you breaks an agreement, the other one needs to “call it” as soon as possible.
• “You haven’t answered my email from 2 days ago. We agreed to answer within 24 hours."
• "Do we need to change our agreement?”
It is well worth the effort to set up agreements. So much time is wasted in the drama of being upset about someone else’s behavior. Imagine your life being focused on how well you keep your agreements and hold others to theirs, rather than on wondering why people won’t stop doing things that drive you crazy.
Make agreements and you will notice that your life just works better.
Life works to the degree that you keep your agreements.
-- Werner Erhard
By Susan Begeman Steiner
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Self-Help Book / Personal Development