Compromise is not about losing. It is about deciding that the other person has just as much right to be happy with the end result as you do.

– Donna Martini

I can be a very stubborn person. If I am discussing with a person regarding a topic or issue that I am well-researched on and that person makes a statement contrary to what I know to be true regarding that topic or issue, I will be the first to say, “No, that is wrong”. When a person interacts in a way that is counter to what I feel to be the right way to act or behave, I will often feel uneasy and will either hold that within or will do what needs to be done to cleanse that uneasiness. There are a number of other situations that invite my stubbornness, but the point is that to be stubborn is to not compromise. And I want to compromise even if it means moments of uneasiness.

I can assure the reader that I will not compromise every chance I get, but I ought to compromise in situations that will benefit both parties. That does not mean I will compromise a good for an evil to receive another good. Rather, it means I will compromise something like a personal tendency or a habitual action to ultimately accommodate the needs of another.

This may not be clear to the reader, so I will play out a scenario. Imagine two people interacting with one another five days a week. They may or may not want to interact with one another, but they work together, so they must. These two people differ in personalities, and work is becoming increasingly difficult because they both have different mentalities to how work ought to be done and how interactions at work ought to occur. So far, both have chosen to be stubborn and have failed to realize the need to compromise. Both, however, will ultimately lose because they both toxify the workplace. What can be done? Well, they can reach a compromise. To do this, both parties must be able to reach common ground. Reaching common ground could be as simple as both wanting to be their best at the workplace. Once that common ground is found and communicated genuinely between the two parties, it becomes a matter of finding out what causes the difficulties between them when working together. This may be tricky and is a bit unrealistic if there is not a neutral third party mediating this communication. Regardless, once the cause of tension between the two parties is addressed and thoroughly understood, the option to compromise and what to compromise on is now presented to both parties.

To resolve workplace tension, both parties chose to compromise. Party A chose to stop calling Party B every single day to take on tasks, and instead chose to email Party B once a week to take on tasks. Party B was flustered when Party A called each and every day requesting them to take on tasks, and instead preferred to receive emails once a week. Party B chose to stop slamming the office door next to Party A’s office, and instead chose to gently close the office door next to Party A’s office whenever passing through. The slamming of the office door disrupted Party A on a weekly basis and often embarrassed Party A in meetings with clients. As the two parties reached compromises after communication, their relationship became much easier to navigate and control. They may not have become the best of friends after these compromises, but they functioned much better together at the workplace. And that would be a type of situation I feel compromise is necessary and an opportunity to grow with another person.

The point of compromise is not to win or lose, but rather to build a bridge of compassion and understanding between you and the other person. Even if I fundamentally disagree with another person, that does not warrant me to do what I please and to neglect the way I ought to behave. The worse that can happen is I challenge myself to compromise for the good of both parties and it does not work out. The ball, as I think it should be, is always on my court. If I will not even get myself to compromise in the type of situation I played out earlier, then I worry that my stubbornness defines me much more so than my difficulties in compromising with others. I want to be defined by my goodwill, my compassion for others, and my intentionality to be the best version of myself for others. I am here to grow and learn with others. I am not here to stifle growth and understanding between myself and others.

Spiritually, workwise, personally, and over time, I believe my capacity to compromise will determine my happiness in all of these areas. Happiness is really all I want for myself and for others, and the more tools I can add to my toolbox, the better I will be able to structure and build a happy life for myself and others. When I am stubborn and resolved to not compromise or fail to be civil, I only end up losing. Maybe the lost does not reveal itself to me immediately, but as I continue on in this life, I am often reminded of the lost and the harm that derived from my past actions. I want to be reminded of my compromises, not my stubbornness. It is about time.

To end, I would like to offer the reader a haiku of my own creation:

Compromise is tough

But it will teach you enough

 Don’t be in a huff



Lutheran Social Services of Northern California