Here’s a new perspective:
Compromise does not mean “Yes, honey” nor “Yes, Sir”.
I think there’s a misunderstanding around this word and this misunderstanding is what we are sick of.
In my language for example, compromising is a way of saying “I leave some from me”. Or, the way I hear it:
“I give up something that is mine so you can be ok.
What we think we’re doing is being generous.
What we are actually doing is we put ourselves on a pedestal by being proud of sacrificing ourselves for others. And we do that so that we can feel equal to the ones that, deep inside, we actually consider superior.
We tend to consider superior the people we think we depend on. Even though not so much in reality, in our minds we truly depend on these people.
They trigger our deepest fears.
It appears that their role is more important than what we care for.
These may be our clients for which “we HAVE to compromise, otherwise we won’t have a business” or our partner without which “we will be all alone.”
Our behaviour is forced by these fears and this behaviour is everything but generous.
There is nothing generous about not articulating clearly what we feel and need while hiding deep dissatisfaction under the “Yes” that hurts our cheeks when we try to fake a smile.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The truest meaning of compromise is reaching a mutual concession. There’s no rule that one has to choke on their truth just to feed the other’s ego with validation.
Compromise may be an act of creation. As any other creation, it is artistic and harmonious.
It implies a deep connection with another human being, clean of judgments and roles. Words, gestures, feelings of empathy and ease all come together into this creation.
It starts with a pure intention where both are committed to drink from this one glass:
As you see, it is by default mutually beneficial. If only one drinks, the rest will be spilled and wasted. The amount of liquid is equal.
All that remains is to take your positions. Notice you can’t drink if you are facing each other. You must be next to one other.
At the same height.
Looking towards the same direction.
As you have taken your positions, the next step is to coordinate your moves. Thought guessing alone won’t do it.
This requires clear communication.
There is no room for blame nor shame. But plenty of space for very specific requests.
And, if you have finished your drinks: Congratulations, you have just made a compromise! One that feels right for both.
Keep this picture in mind next time you have a conversation where you feel like you need to give up a part of yourself so you can force a fit.
And ask yourself:
- Have I left all the judgments about this person on the side including their role? In other words: are we at the same height?
2. Are we looking towards the same direction? Each on our own unique path but is it the same direction?
3. How may I communicate without blaming anyone (not even myself) and in the most loving way what I consider to be the right moves going forward?
Compromising is not the voice of fear, insecurity and low self-esteem.
It is the voice of love.
Use it as such.