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Say your spouse comes home one day and informs you that he or she is becoming vegan. Whether or not you become vegan is your choice, but this is the choice your significant other has made.
So, what do you do? It's not your decision, but you share a home with this person, which means that you share a fridge, maybe one or two meal times a day, and the account that buys the groceries. So the decision involves you too.
It's not your decision, but you share a home with this person.
Ideally, you support your spouse or significant other because you respect their wishes and want them to be happy, but - especially if this is coming out of the blue - you're probably going to have some questions first.
Keep that in mind, because now we're going to talk about changing your job.
We need to talk
At the end of the day, a lot of us don't only work for ourselves - we have families or other loved ones counting on us and living beside us. If you're close enough, any big life changes you make will affect them too. The extent of the change depends by situation. If your new job is the same relative distance away from your home, maybe all you have to do is bring the topic up over dinner, celebrate a little, and then leave things at that. Other changes - salary increase or decrease, different work hours, or possible relocation - are going to require a little bit more discussion.
So, how do you bring up the topic? You wouldn't be bringing up the topic if you weren't seriously considering accepting the job, so you are talking about something that you really want. Recognize that your SO might not have the same attachment to the position that you do, and if they work in a different industry altogether, they might lack the industry knowledge you have to see why this opportunity is awesome. The goal is to make them see things from your perspective while allowing them room to voice their concerns, if any.
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While it may give you a little anxiety to ask if they're willing to jump borders with you - or accept any other huge change - following these steps can help keep communication lines open between you, and make sure that everyone gets to voice their concerns and get a response.
1. Communicate openly and as early as possible
Ideally, you have the kind of relationship where you can discuss significant issues with your living partner early on, but maybe you didn't want to talk about interviewing for your new job because you were nervous or afraid you would jinx it. That's alright, but try to bring things up as early as possible - definitely when things seem to be getting serious.
The urgency with which you bring up the message depends on the amount of change required. If the position is a similar one a few minutes away from your old job, maybe you don't have to say anything until the offer stage - or even after, if you have that kind of relationship with your spouse.
No one is telling anyone to do anything right then and there.
If the job is going to involve a larger change, like the both of you perhaps moving overseas, it's best to say so as early as possible - even earlier if you're raising children or taking care of an older family member.
When you do bring up your possible change in position, keep the atmosphere like that of a two-way discussion. No one is telling anyone to do anything right then and there. You don't even have to make a decision during that initial discussion (more on this later). It's just a forum for voicing concerns. Talk about things. Write them out. Make pro-con lists, if that's your thing. Just make everyone involved feel heard and respected.
2. Practice empathy
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You know how you feel and the benefits of accepting this employment offer, but try to think about the way things look from your spouse's perspective. He or she probably doesn't see you at work every day, just during mornings, evenings, and weekends at home. Think about how your job will affect that. Will you be there as much with this new position's work hours? Will you have to spend more time commuting? Would it be more helpful for the both of you to move house, and do you have the resources - time and money - to be doing that right now?
If you have to move countries, what are the visa requirements for you and your industry? What about your SO's? What are the advantages and disadvantages of living and working there as opposed to here?
Feel free to set aside some time during your discussion to talk about why you want to take this position and the advantages it holds for you, but if it's going to cost your family a little - even if you think that cost will be balanced out by a gain at the new job - it might help if you recognize that beforehand so that you're more prepared to address the issue when it comes up.
3. Try to address as many concerns before as you can
You can work these into your discussion (but be prepared for some back-and-forth; not everyone may see things the same way as you do). Balance out a concern with a positive, especially because you probably wouldn't be thinking of taking on a job with that particular disadvantage if you didn't see some kind of greater advantage down the line.
For example, you could say, “I know this position will require me to work some extra hours on the weekends, so I won't be free all the time, but I'm allowed to work those hours - and a few more if necessary - at home, so I'll be physically around more, with more flexible time."
Your relationship is a partnership. You're supposed to work on things together.
If the position directly affects your significant other, bring that up, but leave room to talk about how he or she feels about it: “I want to take this job because the overall package is much better than I'm getting here, but it involves moving to Melbourne. I don't know much about your industry there, but I'm willing to figure it out if you think you might want to move."
Leave room to work on the problem together. If, in that last example, you'd brought up your pages and pages of research you'd done on your spouse's possible move, that might make him or her feel like you've already made a decision, even if you were just trying to help them figure things out. Don't worry too much about it - your relationship is a partnership. You're supposed to work on things together.
4. Allow time to process and to make a decision
So, let's go back to that vegan example. Your spouse has just come home and told you that he or she is going vegan. You had questions (What does vegan even mean exactly? Why did you make this decision? What exactly qualifies as an “animal product"? How intensely do we need to look into the sources of our food?), which were answered. Because you have a good relationship with your SO, he or she asks you, “What do you think?"
Well, what do you think? Your mind is spinning with new knowledge about the way cows are raised and this poignant story your spouse has told you that has you reevaluating...things. Food. What you know about your SO. The fact that you literally just saw him or her eating a piece of bacon three days ago.
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Maybe you need a minute to think, to sleep on the issue, or maybe to do your own research. Maybe your partner needs the same kind of thing when it comes to figuring out if he or she is okay with going through this life change.
Make them room. Offer to let them think about it, and take all the pressure off them to make a decision right now. You've had your entire interview process to get your mind around taking this new job, plus all the time you spent at your old job contemplating changing your position of employment. Your partner has maybe had...an hour?
If your family needs more time, ask for it. The company should be understanding enough to allow for this.
If you have a hiring manager or recruiter waiting to hear back from you, you ideally asked for some time to figure the issue out for yourself or with your family. If your family needs more time, ask for it. The company should be understanding enough to allow for this and to answer any additional concerns you and your family might have, especially if that's the kind of company culture you were searching for in your interview.
Allow a day or two to pass for thinking, and then approach the topic again.
5. Focus on the other person first
There are plenty of ways to make a person heard besides allowing them time to speak about their opinion. You can make sure that your own language doesn't shut them down while you're talking - for example, you can avoid ultimatums, expressions of finality, or using the royal “we" about the two of you when it comes to making the decision. There will be time later to focus a lot on your mutual decision as well as your perspective. Make sure your family gets a chance to voice their opinions first.
You know this person well. Even if you're early into your marriage and haven't known each other as long as other established couples, you're still going to be well-equipped to know how he or she responds to change - especially when change is also required on his or her end. You'll know how best to bring up the topic and how to proceed.
From there, it's up to the faith in your relationship and the trust you have in each other to figure out your next step.
Ready to look into your next opportunity or sit down and talk with your family about making a change in your life? 100offer can help on the jobs front. Sign up free today and access positions in Singapore, China, Australia, and the US at top tech companies like Go-Jek, Garena, and Moka. You'll get access to our complementary talent consultant who can talk you through the positions as well as the personal side to employment, like figuring out what to tell your family.