Because the no-lose method requires the involved parties to join together in problem-solving, effective communication is a prerequisite. Consequently, parents must do a great deal of Active Listening, and must send clear I-Messages. Parents who have not learned these skills seldom have success with the no-lose method.
Active Listening if required, first, because parents need to understand the feelings or needs of the kids. What do they want? Why do they persist in wanting to do something even after they know it s not acceptable to their parents? What needs are causing them to behave in a certain way?
Why is Bonnie resisting going to nursery school? Why does Jane not want to wear the "ugly" coat? Why does Nathan cry and fight his mother when she drops him off at the baby-sitter's? What are my daughter's needs that make it so important for her to go to the beach during the Easter vacation?
Active Listening is a potent tool for helping a youngster to open up and reveal his real needs and true feelings. When these become understood by the parent, it is often an easy next step to think of another way of meeting those needs that will not involved behavior unacceptable to the parent.
Since strong feelings may come out during problem-solving--from parents as well as youngsters, Active Listening is critically important in helping to release feelings and dissipate them, so that effective problem-solving can continue.
Finally, Active Listening is an important way to let kids know that their proposed solutions are understood and accepted as proposals made in good faith; and that their thoughts and evaluations concerning all proposed solutions are wanted and accepted.
I-Messages are critical in the no-lose method process so kids will know how the parent feels, without impugning the character of the child or putting him down with blame and shame. You-Messages in conflict-resolution usually provoke counter You-Messages and cause the discussion to degenerate into a nonproductive verbal battle with the contestants vying to see who can best clobber the other with insults.
I-Messages also must be used to let kids know that parents have needs and are serious about seeing that those needs are not going to be ignored just because the youngster has his needs. I-Messages communicate the parent's own limits--what he cannot tolerate and what he does not want to sacrifice. I-Messages convey, "I am a person with needs and feelings," "I have a right to enjoy life," "I have rights in our home."*
*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. book