No matter your situation, learning conflict resolution is a helpful tool. There are different opinions within nearly every facet of your life, and approaches to compromise can be imperative to moving forward and identifying how important something is to you.
Not every circumstance requires a compromise, but when the situation does arise, there are ways to take helpful action.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, compromise means:
“An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making a mutual concession.”
Ultimately, by making a compromise, though you may not get your way fully, you have the opportunity to come up with a creative solution that works even better.
When it comes to compromise as part of conflict resolution, here are 5 key ways to approach it:
1. Let go of the expectation that your way is the only right way.
In the rooms of recovery, a question often asked is, “Would you rather be right or happy?”
When you are in a disagreement with someone else, it is easy to only see the situation from your perspective. You can know or feel you are right and still move forward with a compromise approach as part of conflict resolution.
Read More: “Don’t Underestimate The Power In Letting Go”
When you are fixated on being right, you may want to ask yourself why that is important to you. You may want to be heard or seen, and that is okay. Instead of forcing an opinion or judgment, you can take a pause.
Being right and perfectionism can often be intertwined, and both can be lonely experiences. By understanding your intention, you can better predict your outcome.
When you open your mind to other opinions, you can learn more about yourself (by how you react) and be exposed to something outside your box of thinking.
It may be an opportunity for you to practice patience, flexibility and trust which are all worth learning to be a little more comfortable with.
With challenge comes opportunity. The same is true for conflict and compromise.
When you are in a heated moment with another person and want to come to a place of compromise with them, take a pause. Collaboration comes from being able to slow down.
Slowing down with a pause gives you a moment to check in with yourself and regulate any reactions you might have. It also allows you the space to listen to understand the other person(s) point of view.
Forced, rushed decisions can be regrettable. And still, sometimes it is necessary to make a swift decision. In these cases, a pause can be for a short period of time. Understanding yourself prior can help make these pauses more brief (see next).
Taking even a brief pause to reflect on your feelings and reactions can help you act in your best interest and often, more clearly.
Essentially, there is enough time to pause, and when you feel forced or pressured, you get the opportunity to look at how your boundaries are playing a role in the situation.
Being clear about your expectations can help you to come to a compromise no matter your situation.
With practice and awareness, you can develop impulse control through a few breaths or small moment of pause. It’s easier to be preventative with emotional regulation than to make amends due to immediate decision making. And, of course, if you struggle with regulating your emotions or interpersonal resolutions, therapy can help.
3. Be curious about yourself and compromise.
Understanding yourself in relationship with others can help you to grow your compromise toolbox. It can also help you to understand what negotiation skills you already have and your negotiation style.
Read More: “What Are Boundaries And Why Are They Important? Learn To Set And Keep Boundaries”
When you know what your boundaries are in areas of your life, you can better make decisions that will be beneficial for you. When you aren’t so sure what boundaries are or what yours are, be curious.
How do you approach compromise? How does work out for you? Does it end in yelling and disappointment? Does it end in you giving in to other’s wishes; disregarding your own? Be curious.
If you aren’t sure, check in with a trusted partner or friend. Compromise doesn’t only happen in relationships with significant others, but practicing with safe people like a partner or trusted friend, can be helpful during times when you feel more vulnerable.
Know your mental line before you go into a compromise conversation for a successful negotiation. If you don’t know your line, be curious about what it might be.
Ask yourself where you can be flexible and where you are inflexible without getting stuck in rigidity. Be curious about this.
Be curious about your perspective and the story you tell yourself.
Be curious about your reactions to other’s perspective and opinion.
Being curious helps you understand yourself more and provides you with awareness of your patterns in compromise and where these come from.
Knowing your patterns and tendencies can help you come to a compromising situation in an authentic and more calm way.
4. Come up with, and be open to, an alternative or creative solution.
You don’t always need to have a resolution. Sometimes, you may have to come to a place of acceptance that the reasonable compromise or middle ground didn’t feel beneficial to either involved party. That is okay.
Read More: “5 Secrets To Healthy Relationships”
When alternatives are available, have some ready to go for your compromise conversation so that you can be an active member in the discussion.
Taking the time to come up with alternatives can be a form of care for each party involved and can lead to compromising on something different than planned.
For example, you may decide that you want to go out for the night, and your partner may want to stay in. An alternative is that you both do what you would like this time.
5. Listen to understand.
When you are coming up with a compromise, it is important to set time aside to truly listen to the other side before you move forward. This can establish common ground and maintain an ongoing relationship.
Humans have the needs to be seen and heard. When you disregard the other person, it can lead to defensiveness and potentially harmful effects with your relationship.
When you know why the outcome is important to the other person, you can humanize the situation.
Even though it is not always easy to understand motives, intentions, or underlying interests, a step toward compromise is to listen anyway.
Compromise can be beneficial in many aspects of your life whether it is with a partner, boss, coworker, or friend.
Undoubtedly, there will be a difference of opinion with you and someone else in your life. When you are able to compromise, practice communication, as well as weigh a different perspective; you may see relationships strengthen and trust grow in your life.
Developing strategies in a difficult situation can help you learn your communication style while uncovering the emotion or emotions that play a part in your decision making.
Learning how to avoid perfectionism and always being right can help you gain connection. When you are able to connect, you can build the courage to be vulnerable in situations so that intimacy is formed.
You are not alone, and sometimes a professional, like a therapist, can help provide an objective perspective when mediation is difficult. Our therapists in Denver, can help.
Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC