I was meeting with a client recently and we began talking about compromise. They talked about how they butt heads with each other when it comes to certain topics that they feel they have to sacrifice on and neither of them ends up winning.
I interjected and said something like, "Compromise sucks, doesn't it?"
They agreed and asked how they could get to an understanding without having to sacrifice their needs.
Well here's the secret: Don't compromise.
That's right. Compromise tends to be a tactic for people to "meet in the middle" and get some of their needs met while giving up others.
This might work at times, but if it feels like you are "losing" when you compromise, hear me out.
You are probably going about compromise all wrong.
Compromise often has connections to power and winning versus losing. This is the absolute WRONG mindset to be in when trying to converse with someone else.
If you first switch your mindset before you approach a different opinion than your own, you will almost always end up with a better result.
Try this instead:
1) With your mindset in the right place, make time to sit down with the person (or people) with which you have differing positions. Eliminate distractions like devices and television during this meeting. Turn towards each other and make eye contact.
2) When speaking your viewpoint, keep it simple and specific and speak in "I" statements. Try not to ramble on about your point and don't talk over each other. Only one person gets to speak at a time.
3) When listening, pick out certain words and phrases the speaker used to repeat back to them and validate what you just heard. Avoid interjecting your own point until they have been fully understood.
4) Be sure to take turns being speaker and listener with each other. Seek to understand in your conversation and build empathy for the other person.
5) Understand (AND RESPECT!) that you may have some completely opposite views, but ask how each of you can still maintain your values in this situation. There is no "winning" or "losing". There is no loss of power. There is only how each of you can be heard and understood.
Approaching "compromise" this way will help not only in softening how you approach others, but also build better connections, lessen and perhaps even eliminate power struggles, and create healthier communication habits.
Try this method out with your partner, your kids, or a co-worker. See how it goes and if you end up with better results than you usually do.
If you'd like to learn more about better communication, active listening, and how to improve your relationships, consider purchasing The Partnerhood Online Program. Click the button below for further information:
Christie Sears Thompson
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
The Partnerhood (www.thepartnerhood.com)
Trade Winds Therapy & Relationship Coaching (www.tradewindstherapy.com)