Compromise – A Relationship Saving Strategy

How often have you found yourself immersed in an argument that you know won’t end well? How many times have you asked yourself the question, “what were we fighting about anyway?” The goal in any relationship disagreement is to get your point across in a respectful, honest, and direct manner and to feel good about the outcome. Fortunately, that is also the goal of the other person (be it your life partner, a business partner, a friend, or a family member). Getting from Point A to Point B, however, can be a tricky route. Let’s talk today about the art of compromising.

Compromise can be defined as “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions”. What stands out in this common definition is the fundamental aspect of both sides giving a little to achieve an ending they both can live with. One very poignant quote comes to us from Stephen Covey’s tremendous book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. This highlights the paradox of how we often spend years learning how to read and write as well as communicate our thoughts and ideas and yet we fail to actually practice the art of listening. Often this is because we are “programmed” with the intent to respond rather than understand the other person’s situation and/or experience. Instead, we tend to relate to the other person by using autobiographical listening. Very few of us ever practice the highest form of listening-empathic listening.

Compromising begins with the undeniable belief that the person across from you is worthy of their opinion and equal to yourself. If this is not in your heart…keep looking. Once you have found it you then seek a resolution that the both of you can accept knowing that there must be some give to each person’s ideal position. Consider what you need and what it is you can live with.

The benefits of this technique are numerous. If both people are true to each other you will have a partial victory. Something is always better than nothing. You also have the satisfaction in knowing that your partner also shares in a partial victory. Additionally, once both sides become proficient in the art of compromising the speed at which differences and misunderstandings are dealt with allows you both to move on to bigger and more important things. It also builds on the existing strengths of the relationship: respect, trust, and honesty. Like most things, timing is a key element to a positive outcome and it requires two parts practice, one part patience, and one part luck. For more information about the art of negotiating and compromising feel free to contact us.

Kerry & Philippa

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