Why a Positive Attitude is Important to Reach a Successful Compromise

Why a Positive Attitude is Important to Reach a Successful Compromise

PHIL: Maude and I have taken compromise to mean giving something up in order to get something else – a form of trading that inevitably involves losses – but on a recent course we gave, one participant said “it’s OK to give to your partner”, and that’s a crucial difference in attitude; that instead of having something taken from you, you’re giving a gift to the other person.

We are social creatures; we need each other to survive (literally), and so we are wired to help and support each other, and we feel good when we do so. Point out to someone they’ve dropped something, or let another driver go first, and you get a little buzz of pleasure from it.

But when we feel deprived in some way, taking in order to fill that void is a natural reaction. Many people grew up feeling a lack of sorts – not enough attention, the love was conditional, a sibling outshone us, our achievements were ignored or dismissed. Even if we didn’t recognize it at that time, it left a sense of need.

A similar thing happens when we leave home; during the transition from being taken care of to being self sufficient takes time, there is a sense of need, and that manifests as a struggle for resources, whether food or affection or attention or space. It is only as we come to feel complete in ourselves that we are able to recognize that our wants are not imperative; that we will continue to live if they are not met, and the alternative of yielding to the other person has its own pleasure of giving. You might call this a different form of compromise or you might call it something else entirely.

When the two of you are both prepared to yield and make the choice according to the strength of each other’s desire, then the balance sheet of give and take occurs without effort.There is no true element of giving when “giving in” #quote #relationship Share on X

MAUDE: In a group review of our most recent course, a discussion developed on the issue of compromise and whether it has a positive side to it. We often refer to the element of compromise that involves the feeling of giving something up.

All too often, people practice “giving in” to keep the peace. There are two aspects of this attitude that are important to realize. The first is that there is no true element of giving when “giving in”. I am reminded of a quote I often think of in viewing this kind of behavior, “There is no sacrifice in service.”

The second aspect is that “giving in to keep the peace” does not create peace. In fact, it results, quite often, in the opposite. When one person in a relationship feels like they have to repeatedly give in and give up their wants or needs, it very often creates a sense of hardship. That person is left holding onto a feeling of loss. “I gave up on what I wanted to avoid arguments.” This can build up over time to a deep feeling of resentment and often results in an explosive and out of proportion response to a later situation.

During our course review, one of the participants brought up a different aspect that shows the possibility of compromise as a potentially positive path. This option involves a very different attitude. It is one of true giving, as directly opposed to giving up. He emphasized that if you have an attitude of love, and feel that agreeing with even competing wants or needs is a gift, something that gives you pleasure to offer, then this too can give you a sense of peace and goodness. If there is really no build-up of a sense of loss, this type of compromise may truly bring a feeling of closeness and mutuality as well. It’s still important to realize that, even with a different attitude, one person should not always be taking this position or it still results in imbalance and will ultimately produce resentment.

An alternative to compromise that we teach is a process to find new decisions and solutions which express a mutuality; these offer an idea that does not involve giving something up, but rather creates something which satisfies both people. In this process both parties experience the “we” in their relationship, the place where they are in harmony. I described this in a recent blog:

…the clear understanding that you are both on the same side; that there is a ‘we’ that has real substance.

Here, as with so many things, your attitude and your intention are all important. Regardless of how you handle disagreements, if you are both looking for ways to find a positive peace, not an absence of discord, you will enjoy much richer and fulfilling relationships.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Brooch that Phil’s father gave his mother.

Read what some other writers have to say on this topic.

Get our free weekly newsletter about how to have a harmonious relationship.

* indicates required

Join us for our next online pilot course – for details click here:


Tell your friends!

5 Comments on “Why a Positive Attitude is Important to Reach a Successful Compromise

  1. Phil and Maude!

    Just for kicks (and admittedly self-entertainment) — this compromise discussion reminds me of the dialectics format of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Even if “gifting” another player, which I agree is a lovely idea, ultimately does it allow growth of the unit (into “new and higher” territory)? To me, that’s the essential magic of relationship…but this is just a thought.

  2. My husband and I do this with each other. We really don’t have issues with doing for one another. Our son hasn’t learned this yet. I hope I’m not deluding myself when I see signs of him beginning to grasp that he has to be more present and giving in return with us, that he’s grown now and it’s time for him to step into a more reciprocal relationship with his parents.

    My husband has a hard time seeing it – his perspective is that just because our son empties the dishwasher (his only proscribed chore) or doesn’t add to our credit card balance for a week doesn’t mean he really gets it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *