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Who Doesn't Want To Get Their Way?

Making a compromise can trigger intense reactions in some people because it means one must consider giving up something to gain something. In other words, it is not the gain but the giving up of something that makes compromising unsettling for some people.

The reality of making a compromise is that you will not get all you want, and some concessions are unbalanced concerning what you will get. Consequently, people with strong convictions about what is equitable are less likely to compromise.


A settlement is an adaptive means of resolving an issue when there is a stalemate with another person. Conflicts are inevitable in all types of relationships and contexts, even when we try to avoid them. Many disputes arise from differences of opinion on what is fair and just. Therefore, a compromise is needed to arrive at an understanding suitable for those involved.


Let us consider the following questions as they relate to compromising:

  • What does the word compromise mean to you?

  • Are you skeptical about making compromises?

  • What is a compromise, and what is the purpose of making one?

  • When do you believe is the best time to make a compromise?

  • Do you consider compromising to be reasonable and practical?

  • Do you avoid using the word compromise?

  • Do you consider compromising to be a sign of weakness?

For the most part, it is easy to reach a compromise when a majority voice is required. For example, seven out of ten people understood and agreed on dividing seven hundred dollars irrespective of individual contributions towards earning the money. Even where there is a majority rule, a compromise can still be challenging because some group members will feel disadvantaged by the outcome. However, a majority is still a majority.


On the other hand, arriving at a compromise between two people is less straightforward because of individual needs and preferences. Of course, including each person’s needs and preferences in the final decision is next to impossible. Still, most conditions may be met when there is a structured approach.


In these one-on-one situations, one person may seemingly hold all or most of the power and refuse to be flexible, and the other who thinks they have no control may not cooperate. The situation is further complicated when the compromise seems to be one-sided. So, why compromise?

  • To split the difference

  • Find a happy medium.

  • Strike a balance or come to terms.

  • As a preventative measure against the escalation of a disagreement.

Communication is an essential component when negotiating a compromise.


How we communicate puts us in a powerful position to negotiate even among people who describe themselves as uncompromising. The self-described authoritarian person is compelled to listen because they, too, want to understand what they will do and what they will have to concede.


Consequently, be assertive, using your soft communication skills to create a positive discussion. Proactive communication is necessary in this context, given the negotiations are about getting what you want and need versus taking a rigid position.


A demanding approach will come across as aggressive and likely lead to uncooperative behaviors. Hence, be polite and specific about what you want to accomplish; therefore, do not blame, criticize, humiliate, or make unrealistic demands.


Equally important, do not present as passive and unsure of what you want to accomplish. A passive presentation can weaken your negotiating power and result in you making more concessions than you intended. The passive approach can also leave you accepting conditions against your morals and values.


A compromise usually makes sense when...

  • There is a consensus between the involved parties.

  • The decision does not infringe on your or the other person's values.

  • Both individuals or groups have an opportunity to decide if the compromise is reasonable.

  • The conditions for the compromise are clear.

  • The recognition that the gains from the compromise will differ from previously anticipated outcomes.

  • Be mindful that compromises are imprecise, but you should be clear about the settlement terms.

  • The terms of the compromise are ethical.

Compromise may result in small gains, so you must be mindful of how you measure success or learn to prioritize progress over getting the perfect deal. Remember that cooperation between you and the other person is more important than who gains what in the short term.


Empowering Minds. Inspiring Lives.

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