Compromise is a funny thing. It often seems to have a negative connotation (in politics for example), but obviously if we are going to be in the world with other people, compromise is part of the deal. Relationships (healthy ones at least) require compromise. Employment, community, commerce, democracy, family, all of these things require a certain amount of compromise. Seems to me that compromise should be something that we study, practice, and talk about. But we do not.
As someone who has written and spoken about authenticity, I am sometimes expected to be anti-compromise, but I think that authenticity is largely about being more aware of and more intentional about the compromises you make.
Do you compromise well?
I think that a great deal of the compromising we do escapes our attention, the small unconscious decisions that we make hundreds or thousands of times a day; what to say or not to say, how to respond to someone else, how we carry ourselves in different situations. This is harder stuff to get a hold of and frankly requires more self-awareness and introspection than most adult humans in the workplace are interested in.
An easier place to think about compromise is those conscious, complex decisions that we need to work through from time to time. When there is a conflict between work and home, between what your spouse wants from you and what your boss wants from you, or when you are faced with a decision between doing something that you love and doing something that will pay the bills, how do you navigate?
I am horrible at compromise. Too much ego, not enough maturity, the wrong chemicals in the wrong places in my brain, I am not sure why it is so difficult for me, but it is. This is probably why so many of my work experiences were unpleasant, it is probably why there are really very few people actually in my life and then lots of other folks kept at arms-length, it is probably why I spend much of my time alone. I sometimes have a very hard time compromising on things and it is hard to tell whether I am holding onto deeply rooted values or just want things my way. When I do make compromises, it often changes a project from something that I love to something that I can live with…and I have a hard time getting excited about stuff that I can live with.
I am interested in both learning and sharing more about doing compromise well as it seems such a fundamental aspect of work and life.
Do you compromise well? How do you know when to compromise, how much or what to compromise and how did you learn?