Getting (even the toughest) People in your Life to Work With You!

She’s moving baaaaaack!

This time last year my eldest daughter Victoria decided she couldn’t live with me and Caitlin (her wee sister) any longer.  So for the first time ever, she moved in with her dad.

If you’re on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve likely seen my posts every day since August 1st as part of a hashtag “#augustbreak2020”.  Last Friday I posted a couple of pictures of Caitlin and I with the caption “mirrored”.  

I shared how alike we are.  We’re basically kindred spirits and forever soulmates as we rarely fight and we love hanging out with each other. We regularly close malls when we shop together, have the same food sensitivities, and finish each other’s sentences all the time. 

After 22 years of living with this kind of relationship at our house, well, let’s just say, Victoria couldn’t handle it any more and chose to leave.  I mean, it’s understandable.  Can you imagine living with two almost identical people (one Boomer, one Gen Z) who look, think, talk and behave alike?  

In light of all this, Victoria knew that she needed her space.

Two days after the Caitlin post, I shared a collage of me with Victoria with the title “joy” on Instagram.  This time I talked about how this beautiful young woman, my eldest, has brought me so much joy, learning and challenge, especially trying to be a role model for her.  

And now she’s coming back home.  It turns out she misses us, and likes living with us after all. 

Strategy for Change! 
When the idea of her coming home again was brought up I knew we needed a plan because any change in family dynamics has to ensure everyone is heard and considered. 
Caitlin wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. I was trying to figure out how to make sure everybody was happy … a seemingly impossible task with 3 hormonal women, 3 cars and 3 careers in a small semi-detached house.  

TIP #1: Have Real Conversations
If you are faced with a dilemma like this, you need to take everyone into consideration. Conversations need to happen separately before doing it as a family so everyone has a chance to think it through. Sometimes even writing it all out helps you be super clear. Don’t forget to keep an open mind.

Victoria and I sat down together to talk about what she needed to move back in with Caitlin and I. 
Caitlin and I had a conversation to discuss what it would be like to have Victoria live with us again. 
I sat down with myself and thought long and hard about what this would mean for me. The lock down had given me 5 months of alone time while Caitlin was on a school exchange in Europe and Victoria was living at her dad’s.  I realized that all of us would want privacy and need respect, and none of us were the same people we were last year.
TIP #2: Have a Shared Agenda so Everyone Can Contribute
Use your phone Notes, Google Drive, or even a piece of blank paper entitled “Family Agenda” on the fridge to write ALL the talking points down so nothing gets missed.  Write each issue or question as open ended subjects so no decisions are made prior to meeting. This way the conversation can allow for all possibilities, solutions and considerations.

We set an agenda within a shared “note” in our phones so we could all contribute our questions and points to discuss. We left it open for a few weeks to give us time to think it over. 

TIP #3: Schedule a Meeting With Everyone
When you make it official it’s easier to negotiate the conversation. Someone has to lead it … it will probably be you, so keep your cool, and listen to what’s said, and not said. This is what’s needed for love and connection to flourish amidst change and challenge. When you use clear communication everyone knows the drill, appreciates the structure and honors the process. Take it seriously and be involved. This way you’ll get an outcome that works for everyone. Honor each person.
We sat down together in a “family meeting” to talk through boundaries, communication, finances, chores and privacy.  We also discussed how we would navigate food, rent, visitors and space. It was an easy conversation and everyone was clear, happy and felt heard at the end. We did it over dinner and we even used a straw as a “talking stick” so each person had their turn. We have been having family meetings like this since 2007 when their dad and I divorced, so they were onboard with the process.

Keeping the Communication Going 
This kind of communication strategy and practice often doesn’t come naturally to most of us.  It is a skill that is learned over time, with consistency and persistence for the greater good of all.  We learn to set aside our egos and realize that to work together we must come from the deeper heart-centered love that we hold for one another. It takes effort, commitment and desire.

My coaching clients learn all this, and more when they work with me.  They receive specific guidance, phrases, responses and tools to help them keep their cool, and come from love in any difficult conversation they encounter, either at work, in love or with family.

If you’d like help with your communication skills, complete my “Getting Started Coaching Form” and let’s talk.  I will give you one hour of my time to help you find out what’s needed for you to be happier, more confident and live fearlessly.  Especially in difficult conversations. Here’s the form again.

In conclusion, Victoria will move back in at the end of the month, Caitlin is happy, and I’m making sure I continue to get my alone time!  It is a win/win/win for all three of us.

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