Vetoing Mutually with Sarah Knight

Sarah Knight (@mcsnugz) is the author of the NYTimes Best-Selling No F*cks Given guides and host of the No F*cks Given Podcast.

To offer your own advice, call Zak @ 844-935-BEST


SARAH: I have a piece of advice that has kept my 20-year relationship moving smoothly and it involves saying no and setting boundaries. So, I call it, MVP...Mutual Veto Power. And this is something that's been working for my husband and I since the early days. We got together in 1999 and it means that you both have the power to say no to something and not be questioned. If I say no, I don't like that paint color. No, I don't want that couch. No, I don't want to go on our honeymoon to Tokyo...The answer is no and we've agreed to not pre-argue about it. We're not gonna debate. We're not gonna engage in guilt-tripping. It's just a no. We both get to have that Mutual Veto Power and what it means is you avoid a lot of conflict and if the other person is just neutral on the know, on the vacation destination or the paint color or whatever then you go-ahead and do it because that way one of you is getting what you want. But if anybody is a no then you don't do it because that way nobody has to do what they don't want. And I have to say, you know, it works for the little stuff and it works for the big stuff and it just takes a lot of the pressure off of a relationship and this could work with, you know, a client relationship, a family relationship.

ZAK: Because you've had so much practice with this...I can imagine when it first starts it takes some restraint to not push back.

SARAH: It does and I think, you know, what we've learned as a couple over time is that life is much better when you don't force one another or guilt another into doing something the other person doesn't want to do. What you're doing when you say yes to things that you don't want to do or force other people into saying yes to things they don't want to do is you're poisoning the time that you do send together. You're poisoning the relationship. You're creating toxicity that doesn't need to be there and it is not ever, I don't think, my intention or anybody who's trying to get me to do somethings intention to make me frustrated, resentful, angry, anxious about it. Wouldn't it be so much better to just rip-off the band-aid at the beginning, say no, have your no be respected and go on about your day and you know, be able to do things with and for one another that you're both excited about it?

ZAK: Hell yeah. My wife and I, we've been together since 2006 and I think some adjacent practice that we do, it's called Who Wants it More? You have to be really honest about, do you actually care about this? And if you do. If you really want to go out to eat rather than carry-out, just invoke, I think I want to go out more than you don't want to go out. And it causes us both to evaluate how much we do care about and then just to be like, ok, you care more. We're gonna do the thing that you care more about.

SARAH: That's a really good way to phrase it. I have something similar where I talk about making a selfish decision. And I think you can differentiate between good selfish and bad selfish and what I like to advise people is, listen, is the decision that you want to it helping you more than it's hurting anybody else? Because that's probably good selfish. Bad selfish is when a decision you want to make hurts other people more than it helps you. In which case, why aren't you doing it. Why not just go ahead. Go with the flow. And that kind of ties into the MVP rule of, if it's neutral then the person who wants to do it, we can do it. But if either one is a negative, we just both don't do it. And again, that means that at least somebody is getting what they want all the time and nobody is getting what they don't want, ever.

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