Embrace the Positive Side of Compromise
The ability to compromise makes our lives and relationships run more smoothly, even if the concept sometimes seems challenging to implement. Here are some of the advantages of compromising as well as some techniques for finding middle ground.
Good Reasons to Compromise
1. Advance the greater good. Making reasonable concessions paves the way for finding solutions to difficult conflicts. For example, if you’re a parent with physical custody, be generous about accommodating your ex-spouse’s schedule so your kids grow up with two loving parents.
2. Facilitate cooperation. Teamwork flourishes in an atmosphere of trust and respect. By demonstrating your commitment to the common good, you make it easier to work together at the office and at home.
3. Strengthen your relationships. Cultivating our relationships is usually far more valuable than coming out ahead on any particular decision. Build good will by welcoming your mother-in-law’s help in the kitchen even if you think it would be faster to do a task yourself.
4. Feel happier. Our happiness depends more on the way we view events than on the events themselves. As you practice accommodating others, you’ll find that becoming more flexible and generous feels good.
Techniques for Making Constructive Compromises
1. Uphold your core values and needs. Distinguish between compromising and copping out. Bullying is destructive for both parties, so preserve your own integrity and set healthy boundaries. Be firm and respectful about communicating your rights and desires.
2. Prioritize issues. Save your energy for the stuff that really matters. As long as your son is getting good grades and staying out of trouble, maybe you can live with him coming home from college with an eyebrow piercing.
3. Gather facts. Try bolstering your position by doing the research to back it up. If your boss tends to resist change, he may be more receptive to approving a new employee benefit if you document how it saves money and improves employee retention.
4. Empathize with the other person’s position. When you’re asking someone to meet you halfway, try to put yourself in their shoes. Listen closely to their concerns and goals so that you can address them.
5. Consider all your options. We all attach different values to the same things. If you and your partner have different standards for house cleaning, you may be able to work things out by hiring a cleaning service.
6. Express appreciation. Thank people for being willing to make trade-offs. Acknowledge the concessions they make and their contribution to creating more positive outcomes. For example, if your employees work through the weekend to meet a production deadline, ensure it gets noted in their annual review and encourage them to take compensating time off.
7. Stick to your word. Think carefully before making a serious compromise so you’ll feel confident that you can live with it. Proceeding slowly is better than making promises you may later regret. On the other hand, your loved ones will usually be willing to rethink an arrangement if it’s undermining your wellbeing.
8. Take accountability for your decision. Once you spell out the terms you can abide by, assume responsibility for the choices you’ve made. This will help you to avoid becoming resentful.
9. Wield power wisely. Even if you have the upper hand in an interaction, it’s usually best to seek an agreement that’s acceptable to everyone involved. Future situations are likely to run more smoothly and you’ll enjoy more peace of mind.
Learning to give and take helps everyone to wind up with more in the end. Stay true to yourself while being open to making accommodations that create better solutions in our private and public lives.