Making great and successful agreements

I first heard about the importance of agreements in 1995 and I’m still fine-tuning this ability. I sometimes revert to my old patterns of rushing through making an agreement, not checking in with myself to see if I’m agreeing to something I really want to do. Or I’ll push for my way without waiting for the other person’s clear “yes.” When I take the time to feel out what I really want while welcoming what the other person wants, I notice a delicious opening of connection between us that marks being truly co-creative.

The fun part of making agreements is discovering the answer to “how can both people get everything they want?” It can be so easy to think there is only one solution (the “my way or the highway” approach to life). Now I understand that, if I think there’s only one way, my thinking is contracted, so it’s time to breathe, move and wonder about what is really going on for me. The key is to savor the question, “what do I really want?”

Here’s an example. Kathy and I have some history of having conflict about when to leave for the airport. She’d want to get going and have lots of time to relax at the gate. I was the lollygagger, wanting to have more time to sleep or get things done at home. We’d make an agreement about a time to leave, but I’d drag my feet, as I didn’t really step into the agreement. This would turn into a power struggle that led to tense and angry drives to DIA.

Over time, we’ve learned to put attention into making a really good agreement about a time to leave. I’ve understood her desire to feel at ease in not missing the plane, and she understands how disorganized I get when I start rushing. Now our method is to count backwards together about what time we both want to leave. It’s become a game to see how close to our actual ETD we can get. This morning we were three minutes off. Now we get to be teammates and allies in working towards the same goal.

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