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a series of photos (Yang & Lee, 2014). Those who were able to see others’ evaluations of the same photos slowly shifted their ratings to match the consensus. This finding suggests that beauty isn’t just in the eye of the (in- dividual) beholder—it’s in the eyes of the (negotiating) beholders. Another way to explain negotiation is to view interpersonal com- munication as the exchange of stories. Narratives are the stories we use to describe our personal worlds (Bromberg, 2012; Langellier & Peterson, 2006). Just as the boxes in Figure 4.1 on page 104 can be viewed in sev- eral ways, virtually every interpersonal situation can be described by more than one narrative. These narratives often differ in their casting of char- acters as “heroes” and “villains” (Aleman, 2005). For instance, consider a conflict between a boss and employee. If you ask the employee to describe the situation, she might depict the manager as a “heartless bean counter” while she sees herself as a worker who “always gets the job done.” The manager’s narrative might cast the roles quite differently: the “fair boss” versus the “clock watcher who wants to leave early.” Similarly, stepmothers and mothers-in-law who see themselves as “helpful” might be portrayed as “meddlesome” in the narratives of stepdaughters and daughters-in-law (Christian, 2005; Sandel, 2004). When our narratives clash with those of others, we can either hang on to our own point of view and refuse to consider anyone else’s (usually not productive), or try to negotiate a narrative that creates at least some common ground. Shared narratives provide the best chance for smooth communication. For example, romantic partners who celebrate their suc- cessful struggles against relational obstacles are happier than those who don’t have this shared appreciation (Flora & Segrin, 2000). Likewise, cou- ples that agree about the important turning points in their relationships are more satisfied than those who have different views of which incidents were most important (Baxter & Pittman, 2001). Counselors even use “nar- rative therapy” to help partners revise and renew their identity as a couple (Kim et al., 2012b). Shared narratives don’t have to be accurate to be powerful (Martz et al., 1998). Couples who report being happily married after 50 or more years seem to collude in a relational narrative that doesn’t always jibe with the facts (Miller et al., 2006). They agree that they rarely have conflict, although objective analysis reveals that they have had their share of dis- agreements and challenges. Without overtly deciding to do so, they choose to blame outside forces or unusual circumstances for problems, instead of attributing responsibility to one another. They offer the most charitable interpretations of one another’s behavior, believing that their spouse acts with good intentions when things don’t go well. And their narratives usu- ally have happy endings (Frost, 2013). Examining this research, Judy Pear- son (2000) asks the following: Should we conclude that happy couples have a poor grip on reality? Perhaps they do, but is the reality of one’s marriage better known by outside onlookers than by the players themselves? The conclusion is evident. One key to a long happy marriage is to tell yourself and others that you have one and then to behave as though you do! (p. 186)