No matter how much two people love and respect each other, they are bound to encounter a few bumps from time to time. Whether it's a difference of opinion, a difference in goals, or a difference in values, at some point, these differences will lead to disagreements.
Ideally, you want to get on top of those disagreements and resolve them before they escalate into antagonistic conflict. Healthy compromise enables you to do just that. But what exactly does healthy compromise look like?
Far from "giving in" or giving something up, healthy compromise is all about finding a mutually satisfying outcome that aims to meet each person's needs as much as possible. Here are some key characteristics of healthy compromise in a relationship.
Healthy compromise happens when both parties are calm and thinking clearly.
It's hard to have a constructive conversation when tempers are flared and emotions are running high. There's nothing wrong with taking a break to cool off, and then coming back to the conversation a little later on. You'll feel calmer and better able to think clearly, enabling you to look at things more objectively. Instead of over-reacting or adopting a defensive posture, you'll be in a much better frame of mind to talk things through and actually listen to what the other person is saying.
Healthy compromise gives consideration and respect to the needs of both parties.
Compromise does not mean one person gets their way, while the other person's needs are dismissed or discounted. Healthy compromise gives due consideration and respect to the needs of both parties. This creates a safe, secure, solid foundation to work from, and you can then put each person's needs into context, based on the bigger picture.
For instance, perhaps it makes sense to prioritize one person's goals if the circumstances make it time-sensitive. At the same time, it may still be possible to accommodate the other person's goals—albeit postponed or scaled back.
Healthy compromise addresses concerns that lie beneath the surface.
If you find yourself caught up in a battle that leaves you feeling stuck, consider that there may be something going on beneath the surface. When we find ourselves digging our heels in over something trivial, it's often camouflaging a more important concern. A great way to probe this is simply by asking yourself some questions:
You can probe this with the other person by saying something like: "I feel like I may be missing something here, and I don't want to. Can you tell me a bit more to help me understand why this is so important to you?" Give the other person the floor and listen carefully. Once you have a clearer understanding of what's driving the other person, you can respond more effectively as you explore potential solutions.
Healthy compromise occurs freely and willingly; it does not involve guilt-tripping, manipulation, or coercion.
Being made to do something against your will through any type of force or manipulation is not healthy compromise. It may well be that you decide to make a sacrifice in order to accommodate the other person. However, this should be a free choice. It's important that you feel good about what you've arrived at and how you arrived at it. It's fine for the other person to express their needs and preferences; but it is never okay for them to bully you into compliance.
Healthy compromise embraces flexibility and openness to alternative options.
As we try to sort things out, it may feel as if we're going in circles and getting nowhere. This can happen when we become overly focused on one particular way forward. We're unable to see other options, because we've already concluded that there can't possibly be any other options.
When this happens, take a step back and try brainstorming some alternative solutions. Give yourself permission to explore anything and everything, even if a prospective idea sounds ridiculous or impossible. This can shake you out of your normal way of looking at things. You may find that out of all those ridiculous ideas, there are a couple that are actually feasible, allowing both parties to come away feeling great about the compromise.
Image Credit: Cally Lawson from Pixabay
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