Compromise May Actually Hurt Your Relationship, Here’s What To Do instead
One of the most often tried methods of attempting to make amends or reach a possible solution between people is to suggest a compromise – a resolution where each side gives up a little of what they want in exchange for something both can live with. But psychologists aren’t sure that trying to reach a compromise is always the best way to proceed. In fact, taking a slightly more “selfish” route may actually enrich relationships.
Simple situations generally do well with compromises, but in larger, more complex disagreements, they can even prevent solutions from being reached. If I want chicken for dinner but my husband wants pork, we might be able to compromise and have pork tonight and chicken tomorrow. That type of situation doesn’t have long-lasting consequences and likely won’t leave either party feeling like we lost.
However, if the situation is more serious, the parties involved may not be willing to make sacrifices. If one friend is consistently late to dinner, the other friend is less likely to compromise on the time of the meeting, perhaps out of frustration of a lack of trust. The friend may feel that he has been taken advantage of previously and is not likely to care as much about the needs of the friend who is often late.
I have a family member who rarely answers the phone when people call her. Many times, we will be on the phone only to lose the connection. My return calls go unanswered. Making plans to speak at a certain time don’t help. Trying to find a time to talk that works for her doesn’t make a difference. I often get so frustrated by her behavior that I don’t call anymore. When she doesn’t answer my calls, I feel like I am not an important part of her life, and that she doesn’t respect my time.
Psychologists suggest other options when compromise isn’t the best solution. For example, it appears as though negotiation is psychologically more difficult when it is possible that one or both parties could incur losses. It has also been suggested that compromise is less successful when those involved allow their emotions to take a front seat to logic. This is seen a lot in politics, where deep-seated opinions and beliefs are often held as the standard for decision making. Perhaps one party offers up a bill but the party across the aisle doesn’t want to accept it simply because it was offered by their congressional enemies.
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When trying to find a compromise doesn’t work, here are a few alternatives:
-Solutions should anticipate resistance from others
-Suggestions must take into account the future of the relationship
-Try to keep emotions out of the solution
Ultimately, the best types of solutions remember that the relationship involved is the most important part of reaching an agreement. It’s important to consider the next steps so that the relationship can flourish. Selfishness can ruin a compromise, but more importantly, it can destroy the relationships surrounding the situation.
It is also critical to work on resolving conflict by using intellectual means rather than appealing to the sentiment of the other party. Knowing what someone needs and attempting to meet those needs can be more effective than trying to get into their hearts. Ultimately, compromise works well when the situation is simple and doesn’t drag on unresolved issues within a relationship.