I wandered for forty years before I realized that I’d marry. The morning of my wedding, I walked into an exclusive salon in Tuscany. Pampered by a masseuse, a nails specialist, a make-up artist and hair stylist, I emerged at 11:15 a.m. looking like a superstar. The civic ceremony, for family and closefriends only, was at noontime in the scenic town of Fiesole overlooking Florence.
Walking on air toward a taxi stand, I realized I was running fifteen minutes late. Calling my fianc to propose that I meet him and our families at City Hall instead of at my in-laws’, I was puzzled when he tensely said, “No, stop by the house first.”
I had left Giorgio and my parents at his father’s home so that he could pay the wedding party’s entertainment impost, and pick up the wedding bands and bridal bouquet. Then the three of them would change at “base camp” and come back to the house where we would meet so the entire family convoy could drive to Fiesole together.
Fifteen minutes later, in the midst of a large elegantly dressed crowd outside his parents’home I spotted the groom next to our parked car, jumping up and down in agitation. He and my parents were still dressed in Bermuda shorts as i had left them earlier that morning!
Dumbstruck, I got into the vehicle with them, anticipating an account of what had gone awry. Instead I got a stream of accusations from my fianc for being late! I tried to explain why I was delayed but my explanation came across as an excuse.
We started to argue. Really argue. Then the man whose wedding proposal I had accepted muttered something he would have been better served to keep to himself: “I know I am making the same mistake for the second time….”
I sensed my father shrink in the back seat secretly invoking divine intervention. Bashing my lace-gloved fists against the dashboard I said, “If you are foolish enough to repeat the same mistake twice, I am smart enough to avoid making it at all!”
As the car came to a screeching halt in the 15th century courtyard of Villa di Maiano, whose accommodations we had leased for the evening party, everyone jumped out of the car and raced to change their clothes. That is, everyone except me.
Speeding past me my father said in a low voice, “Sweetheart, where’s your bouquet”
“I don’t know Dad” I retorted. “I was busy being the bride this morning.”
“It was on the dining room table,” he whispered disappearing from sight. I spotted and called Giorgio’s cousin rushing across the Italian gardens, “Raffaele!” I already sounded like I was back at work delegating tasks and managing people. Wasn’t this the day to just be a girl I assigned to him the recovery of the bridal bouquet.
Then I heard more yelling across the property. I didn’t even know until days later that Giorgio had spent hours tracking down the family jeweler who engraved a set of wedding bands that morning because he never remembered to confirm the order for the platinum ones I had chosen. The problem now was Giorgio was locked out and could not change! He had given he keys to the mansion to another cousin who got dressed and was already at City Hall. I let Giorgio handle that one. It was time for me to make a critical decision.
Throughout my entire life, I had never demanded an answer from the Man Upstairs. Until that day. And I never expected to get one in real time. Until now. Walking to the edge of the road overlooking the Tuscan valley, I removed my hat and said:
“Okay, look. I don’t pray… I don’t go to church every Sunday… and I haven’t always believed in You…. But I need you TODAY, and I need you RIGHT NOW. I am not going to live my life wondering if what’s happening today was the writing on the wall… I need to know now: should I go ahead and get married or should I call this wedding OFF!”
An elegant response came back faster than the speed of light:
“If you can’t say yes with an open heart… don’t say it.”
Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?
The response indicated that there is a higher expression of win/win – i.e., WIN/WIN or No Deal. I decided that’s what I would strive for that day and beyond: WIN/WIN or No Deal at all. If getting married didn’t benefit both of us then we would agree to not get married.
Suddenly, I felt energized, empowered and effervescent, with no emotional strings attached. I had no agenda to push; I was open and congruent with the notion that it is better not to deal than to live with a decision that isn’t right for both of us.
Within seconds, my parents reappeared. Giorgio arrived like a hurricane behind them. Thrusting himself in the driver’s seat he was still spitting nails. It was half past noon as the four of us sped off to City Hall. Fiesole was a 10-minute drive away.
I turn to Giorgio in the car with genuine enthusiasm. “You know what” I said. “You and I are too old to be getting married for the wrong reasons. If we can’t say yes with an open heart then we shouldn’t say it.” We wildly swung from side to side in the car as he rapidly overtook a man riding a Vespa uphill.
I continued.”I’ve got a stunning Valentino red long gown and everything is paid for tonight. If we decide not to get married, slow down when we reach City Hall. I’ll roll down the window and yell to everyone outside, ‘We changed our minds!’ Then drive off. Guests will show up for a great party tonight and we’ll have something to talk about for years to come. What do you say?”
How many times have you created a win/lose situation in which you got your way with your employees or kids and they did not feel good about it How did you feel about the situation Or have you ever created a lose/win and felt bad because you gave in to a customer or your spouse when you really wanted to stand your ground Perhaps you talked yourself into believing a lose/win was really a win/win.
Ultimately, win/lose and lose/win both lead to lose/lose because downstream resentment eventually will surface,which often creates a withdrawal from the relationship.
The freedom that comes with going into a negotiation with a full WIN/WIN or No Deal attitude is incredible. The key is to focus on separating your needs from your wants. Thus, identifying clearly your needs and wants is very important. When do you say No Deal and when do you say WIN/WIN You say No Deal when it’s a need because needs are non-negotiable. And you are open to, and strive for a WIN/WIN when it is a want.
For example, let’s say you are negotiating for a new job. Maybe you need certain elements in the job offer that if they are missing it’s a deal breaker because you cannot have your needs unmet. So it’s No Deal.However, it you like to have more money it’s not a need it’s a want. If they don’t offer what you ask maybe WIN/WIN would be to agree to doing an evaluation in six months and if your performance warrants it, your employer can consider the increase then.
WIN/WIN or No Deal provides amazing emotional freedom in a family relationship as well. If family members can’t come to an agreement about which movie to see, then it’s No Deal i.e., no movie. Change plans and go to dinner someplace that everyone enjoys so that some are not having their way at the expense of the rest.
Anything less than a win/win in an interdependent reality is a poor second best that will affect the long-term relationship negatively. If you can’t find a WIN/WIN solution, you’re very often better off to choose No Deal.
Giorgio and I were forty-five minutes late to our own wedding! With No Deal on the table as an option, we both chose that day to say, I do. Our hearts remain open. We wish even more for you We live happily ever after.