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How to Know When to Compromise: 4 Key Questions to Ask
middle road - compromise

How to Know When to Compromise: 4 Key Questions to Ask

Compromise can be a very tricky thing to achieve. What’s touted as a meet-in-the-middle, win-win solution can sometimes feel like a lose-lose scenario for both parties involved.

Any relationship requires some degree of compromise. Whether it’s your other half, your boss, your colleagues or your friends, we can’t agree on everything. Compromise is sometimes the only way to move forward and make progress.

But at other times, you may feel that by compromising you are being too much of a pushover. Compromising at every turn isn’t good for your relationships in the long run. You need to be able to assert your needs and requirements as well as working to meet those of others. You’re an equal player in any relationship and should be able to retain your integrity and sense of self, even when working to overcome conflicts of interest or disagreements.

How to Know When to Compromise: 4 Key Questions to Ask

There are things that are okay to compromise. There are things that are not okay to compromise. Life is about learning the difference.

- Katrina Mayer

So how can you learn when to compromise and when to stand your ground? In each situation where you’re tempted to compromise or being told to, ask yourself a few questions.

1. Has this situation arisen before?

If you’re repeatedly finding yourself in the same conflict situation, you really need to question whether compromise is the best approach. When past compromises only temporarily solve an underlying issue, you need to get to the heart of your relationship problems rather than coming to an uneasy truce. Talk about your conflict in depth, no matter how difficult it may be to be open. By fully understanding where each of you stands, you may be able to come to a more lasting solution.

2. Does the other person respect the fact that I’m making a compromise?

Making a compromise means putting your own needs and desires to one side in favor of the common good. Sometimes both parties involved in a conflict will need to compromise. Sometimes just one person is expected to compromise. In these cases, the other “winning” party needs to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices you are making. If they don’t, it’s likely that they’ll expect you to make more compromises in the future, putting up very little resistance and not feeling like they need to reciprocate every now and then.

3. What will happen if I say no?

“No” can be one of the most liberating words in the dictionary. For people-pleasers who always want to tell people what they want to hear, saying no can mean a reassertion of their own rights. By saying no, you’re also saying “What I want counts too.” Ask yourself what will happen if you say no and refuse to compromise. It may be that holding your ground is the best thing you can do for your self-esteem. It may also help the other person involved as they’ll have a clearer idea of where your boundaries lie and learn to respect them.

4. How important is this issue to me?

Whatever relationship you find yourself in, there are certain things you should never compromise on. These are the things that are fundamental to your sense of self and your happiness. If the conflict centres around one of these non-negotiable issues, you shouldn’t give in. Instead you should try to explain why this particular issue is so important to you and reaffirm how you intend to approach it.

The bottom line

Compromise isn’t always the answer. Healthy compromise, where both people in a relationship are prepared to both give and take, is a good way to resolve conflict. Unhealthy compromise, where one person is repeatedly giving in to the other, is likely to create long-term problems. If you think you compromise too much, do your best to stand firm. Sometimes refusing to compromise can be the key to your emotional health and your happiness.

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