These types of conflicts occur often. When we have what seem like irreconcilable needs, in order to move forward, it seems that often one party ends up fulfilling their needs at the expense of the other’s.
"Compromise" is a word often tossed around in these situations. We have all heard the conventional wisdom that every good relationship is based on compromise. All of us have been told at one time or another that we need to compromise.
When we hear “compromise” though, it usually signals to us that we are going to have to give up something that we want for the greater good of the relationship. The attitude/mindset of both parties is still usually one of Win-Lose; each has concerns about losing and being sure they get most of what they want—their solutions.
Compromise means that one or both parties will forfeit one or more of their needs so that everyone can get along.
A compromise for our quarrels above might look like this:
"I don't want to eat my broccoli; it makes me gag!"
"You need your vegetables. Now just take 5 bites!"
"Fine, I guess I’ll wait on you; just let me know when you feel like talking."
In the first example, the child does not get his needs met. He may submit and eat his broccoli, which could leave him feeling powerless, frustrated, perhaps resentful, or he may try a fight or flight response. In any of these situations, harm is done to the relationship. The parent has sent the message to her child that her own needs take precedence over his.
In the second example, one person has completely submitted and sacrificed their needs for another. This person has put his or her own needs on the back burner, which will likely be frustrating and again may lead to feelings of anger and resentment.
P.E.T. offers us an alternative to compromising, called Method III. Instead of putting ourselves through the frustration of not having our needs met through compromise, or feeling like we have to battle our loved ones in a “my needs vs. your needs” battle, we can clearly state our needs and then discuss and reach a solution that meets everyone's needs. In essence, everyone gets what they want.
We will be discussing the six steps of Method III conflict resolution in more detail in an upcoming post. Until then, please feel free to leave comments about your experiences with compromise, how it made you feel, the effect it has had on your relationships, or anything else!