How to Compromise

Two Methods:Compromising in a RelationshipCompromising at Work

Coming to a compromise can be incredibly difficult, no matter if it's with your boss at work, or with your significant other. Fortunately, there are ways to make the compromise happen more easily and less painfully. Coming to the table open to compromise and being willing to listen, are two of the big ones!

Method 1
Compromising in a Relationship

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    Open communication. You have to make sure that you have open communication before you start trying to compromise. Being open in your communication allows you to be open and honest in your compromise. If you approach communication without being open your partner will know that you're trying to get something out of them and they'll be less likely to compromise.[1]
    • Right off the bat, state what it is that you want and then listen to what the other person has to say. This way everything is out in the open.
    • Be calm in your manner. If you're angry, or sarcastic, or sneering, you're going to immediately turn off the other person to your point-of-view.
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    Make sure what you're asking is reasonable. Closely consider what it is you're asking the other person to compromise on. There re good compromises and bad compromises. Bad ones are when you ask the other person to compromise who they are as a person.
    • Ask yourself some questions about the thing you want your partner to compromise with you on: are you asking someone to change who they are? are you asking too much of the other person?
    • If the compromise springs from a profound need to change on the other person's part, you might find that compromise isn't possible. For example, if you need absolutely everything in your shared space to be spotless and your partner needs clutter in their life, unless you can find a way to balance those two needs, you might need to consider that you can't share the same space.
    • Things that are good compromises concern things like asking your partner for better communication, or to take more responsibility (for example: if you end up doing all the household chores, asking your partner to take more responsibility for that is completely reasonable), or making sure that needs are being met.
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    See things from your partner's point-of-view. You might be very committed to what you're asking for, but you need to be able to see what your partner needs as well. Your partner is going to be as committed to their point-of-view as you are to yours. If you can see how they're feeling and why they're feeling that way you'll be more likely to come to a compromise that works for you both.
    • Make sure that you ask them to present their thoughts as specifically as possible. Compromise only comes about through effective communication. Ask open-ended questions like "Why do you feel that way?" and "What can I do to help make this compromise work for you?" and ask your partner to help you understand the issue more clearly.
    • For example: if your partner and you are having a conflict because you want to go for a month long vacation during the summer, and they want to take smaller vacations throughout the year, make sure you understand their reasons for this. Perhaps it's harder for your partner to take the time off work needed for that type of vacation, perhaps they wanted to use part of their vacation time to visit their family for the winter holidays. These would all be absolutely valid reasons and you would need to see that.
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    Listen. Part of effective compromise is to listen effectively, as well. If the person you're compromising with doesn't feel like they're being listened to, they won't feel like their side is being heard.
    • When the other person is speaking, really listen to them. If you can, make eye contact with the other person. Don't look at your phone, or fiddle with objects.
    • If you lose track of what the other person has said, ask them to repeat it. You can say something like "Sorry, I was just so busy thinking about what you said about X, that I didn't hear what you just said. Could you repeat that?"
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    Assert yourself appropriately. Asserting your needs is a great thing. Women, especially, are taught to be conciliating, instead of speaking up for their own needs. However, there are appropriate ways to do this and ways that will hurt your partner or cause further friction, instead of making a good compromise.
    • Examples of asserting yourself appropriately: speaking clearly, explaining what it is you want, having certain things you are less willing to compromise on.
    • Examples of inappropriately asserting yourself: yelling, talking over your partner, hitting your partner, making snide remarks about your partner, talking down to your partner, forcing your partner to go along with your plans "for their own good."
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    Be honest. If you want to make sure that you're both being clear about your needs and that your partner understands what it is that you want and why it is that you want it, you will need to be clear. It can be difficult to be honest, sometimes, especially if you don't want to hurt the other person by your honesty. There are ways of being honest that can minimize hurt feelings.[2]
    • Don't lash out, however true your statement is. For example: your partner has been putting off getting a job and you need some time off, so you're looking for your partner to take a job, even a temporary one. Instead of calling your partner lazy (maybe they are, that's not the point), say that you really need a break and that you really need help in terms of income.
    • It's always a good idea to sandwich criticism with gratitude or something good that your partner has been doing. For example: say you and your partner are trying to compromise about the household chores. Say something like "I really appreciate that you take out the garbage each week, but I really need help with the cooking and the cleaning, and I know that you make really good food, so I'd really love some help with that."
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    Recognize that compromise doesn't have to be 50/50. You aren't going to come up with a perfect, 50/50 split when you compromise with your partner. You just have to make sure that one of you isn't making all the compromises and the other person isn't making any.[3]
    • For example: if you're trying to compromise between one partner who wants to paint the baby's room pink and the other who wants to paint it blue, combing the two isn't going to work very well. Instead, see if the two of you can come up with a second color that you both like (like yellow, or pale green). Or have one person decide on the color of the baby's bedroom, while the other person gets to pick furniture.
    • If one person is making all the compromises, make sure that the next compromise happens in their favor, or consider giving in entirely.
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    Deal with larger issues. Sometimes the problems that you are trying to compromise on are associated with bigger issues. if you aren't dealing with the bigger issues, you're going to have further difficulties down the road.
    • As an example: if you both are trying to come up with a time to have coffee and can't agree on the time, the problem might not be that you can't agree on the time. Instead, the bigger issue might be that the other person has flaked out on you before and you're less interested in compromising your schedule just for them to not show up.
    • Just as you would while trying to come up with a suitable compromise, you'll want to deal calmly and kindly with one another. To use the same example, explain to your friend or partner that it makes you feel like your time isn't valued when they don't show up, and don't even let you know that they have to cancel.
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    Do something fun. Compromise and serious discussion can be incredibly difficult and energy-draining. To make it easier on both parties, do something fun afterwards, especially if it's a big thing that's being compromised on. The person who had to compromise the most, gets to to choose the fun thing.
    • For example: if you've compromised on something big (like which family you're visiting for the holidays) then do something fun like go out to dinner, or have a picnic. It will make the compromise less unhappy for you both.

Method 2
Compromising at Work

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    Calm down. Compromise, even ones that happen at work, can be emotional and frustrating for all parties. Before you try to hammer out the details so that everyone gets something that they want, you should take a step back from the emotions you have invested in your side.
    • Even if it's just for a few minutes, take time to go somewhere by yourself and talk yourself through what you want or need out of the compromise. It's especially important if this is something you need to do with your boss, or there is a lot riding on this compromise.
    • If you can't take a little time to yourself, then just take three deep breaths, all the way down into your diaphragm. This will help to calm your nervous system and make it easier for you to process information and effectively present your side of things.
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    Lead with open-ended questions and statements. You want to get a sense of what the other person wants out of the compromise. You also want the other person to feel like they're being heard. The best way to get a compromise is to really listen to the other side.[4]
    • Ask questions like: "why do you feel that way about X?" and "How can we do this better?"
    • For statements say things like "Help me understand more about this situation/your side."
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    Be respectful. To get any sort of compromise you need to be respectful about the other person's point-of-view, even if you don't agree with it. Respect the other person and their idea and show that you respect them.
    • Don't call names or use words like "stupid, "useless," or say things like "Why would you even propose that?" or "That would never work!" Denigrating the other person will make them dig in more firmly on their own side and it will be harder to create compromise.
    • For example: if someone at work proposes an idea that is different than your idea, don't talk about how bad the idea is, or why it's a bad idea. You can point out it's flaws, while still being respectful. In fact, you can propose ways to make their plan more workable.
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    Create common ground. Remember, you and the other person both want to come to some sort of agreement. Being stuck in a stalemate doesn't get anyone what they want. try to find something that you both can agree on, even if it's a small thing. It will create good will between you both.[5]
    • Signal your commitment to settle the disagreement. This way the other person will feel like you're both working towards the same end, even if you're coming at it from different points-of-view. This means listening closely to the other person, asking if there are ways to combine both your ideas and showing that you understand why it's important to the other person.[6]
    • The common ground could even be something small, like a joke, as long as it creates some sort of bond between both of you. For example: you could start off a meeting by saying that you're all probably looking to get to lunch!
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    Present your side. It's best to give your version or side of things in a calm, rational manner. This is the time for you to show why you want what it is that you're proposing and what the benefits of it are.
    • Give facts. The more ways you can validate your feelings and opinions, the more likely the people you're reasoning with will consider your position.
    • For example: if you're trying to get a four-day workweek instituted at your workplace (good luck with that) don't just say that you want it because you're tired all the time and need a better break. Instead, present statistics and studies that have been done on worker productivity and how much better employees do when they have a better break.
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    Offer more than one possible compromise. A good way to find something that works for everyone is to offer more possibilities. Combine ideas in different ways and see if you can come up with creative solutions to the problem.
    • Brainstorm with the opposition. Answer the questions: what are you trying to accomplish? If there was no obstacle, how would you approach the problem? What would be the optimum solution for you both?
    • Come into the discussion with several different options that you're willing to work on with the other person.
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    Aim for agreement not for winning. If you come into a situation where you're looking for compromise, you can't try to "win" it, because you'll be setting yourself up for failure. Winning is when you and the other person both feel like they've gotten what they wanted, or something approximate to what they wanted.
    • Try to avoid being super attached to your version of things. You can want things to go your way, without shutting down the other person, as long as you listen and consider their side of the equation.


  • Be nice. No one will want to compromise with you if you don't seem approachable and willing to listen.
  • Even if you don't necessarily agree with the other person, be willing to consider the benefits of their approach and what they have to offer.


  • Remember that compromises are win-win situations; don't do anything that could make one side lose, or you will end up getting played or being avoided when it comes to future compromises.

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Categories: Maintaining Relationships | Social Interactions