Compromising Usually Means Lose-Lose
When two kids have to share a truck, neither of them get to play with the truck the way they want to. They’re both dissatisfied because they didn’t get to express their innate “truckiness.” That’s why sharing doesn’t usually work. Instead, when we let them take turns, they each get to be masters of their truck for the time that they’re in charge. Each of them can express their innate truck desires fully. The same goes for us adults trying to align on our parenting styles. Many of us have been told that if you’re married and you’re parenting together, then you need to be a united front. Because the key to successful marriage is compromise…right? As if we both think, act, and feel exactly the same! Ha! The trouble is we’re different people, so when we compromise in this way it often means giving in, and giving up on the values, ideologies, or philosophies that are important to us. Each of us gives in a little bit and we find the lowest common denominator.
When we just go with the flow, and give in, often resentment builds up. If you had a dream for a certain kind of birth, education system, or a way that you want to feed your children, discipline them, a lifestyle that you want to live or the type of home you want to run, but you keep giving up on those dreams for the sake of peace with your partner then resentment can build up. You can start to feel like you’re living a life that’s not true to yourself. It might feel like you’re giving in and resigning yourself to what’s “realistic.” These are all ways of diffusing your passion, and eating away at your soul!
In his book Never Split The Difference an FBI negotiator Chris Voss shares about his disbelief in the concept of compromising. He says that compromise always creates a lose-lose situation. An example from the book is if a wife wishes for her husband to dress dapperly and decides that he should wear black shoes with his suit, whilst he wants to wear brown shoes, they can go at it and try to persuade the others. If they compromise and he wears one black shoe and one brown shoe, it’s ultimately the worst of both worlds. Nobody wins, everybody loses, and it’s the worst possible outcome of that particular negotiation. And often, the worst possible outcome comes from compromising.
So how do we get along, live peacefully, and align our parenting with our partners? I recently put out a free eBook called Ten Zen Secrets of Persuasion. The approach is generally about how to become a ninja master of persuasion. Today I have an extra law that I want to add to those ten, and it’s the Law of Never Compromising. Traditional marriage advice tells us to never compromise, and to present a united front. As we’ve just outlined though, sometimes compromising gives us the worst of both worlds. The same goes for us adults trying to align on our parenting styles.
A Different Approach to Conflict Resolution
The first thing to realize is that we are not a united front, but two separate individuals. Sure, we are one wholistic family and we’re united in our partnership, but we’re not a united front. We can do many things different pertaining to parenting and that’s OK. It’s beautiful, and safe, and wonderful to create a diverse atmosphere at home that actually embraces our differences. It can be a place that highlights our unique differences and makes it OK that we can live different lives, make different choices, have different opinions, and communicate in different ways with our children – and that’s OK. We can communicate in this way to our children that this is a safe place for us each to just be ourselves.
The key is to listen and learn from each other, remaining open and curious. We must be open to persuading the other and also to being persuaded by the other. There are some instances where we don’t need to be persuaded. We can simply to different, separate things. We don’t have to be uniform to be united. We don't have to be uniform, to be united.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This As you know, sometimes opposites attract! It can often be our differences that make our lives more interest, and more manageable. So we must be open to listening to the other person but neither of us has to give up on our dreams of how we want to be parents just in order to please each other or keep conflict to a minimum
According to Christ Voss Conflict brings out truth, creativity, and resolution. Embracing conflict as a natural, helpful, inevitable part of your relationship might be one key here. If we can remain true and authentic to ourselves and our ideas, we can see conflict as an opportunity to influence one another from an authentic place. Can we really help each other see the other’s world view? Not compromising. Can we embrace conflict and become a good persuader rather than a good compromiser. The truth is, either the black shoes or the brown shoes could work! If you go deep and get into the nuts and bolts of your decisions, maybe you can find one that you both feel good about. Sometimes making a decision and getting behind it, can be better than being stuck in limbo where there’s no decision, where you’re torn about which way to go.
The way I see it is that we have two healthy choices:
- We embrace our differences, and find joy in the fact that there are separate ways to do things.
- We get on the same page by using our Persuasion Skills, and move forward together wholeheartedly. For the sake of unity, look for true alignment (not compromise).
Let’s think again about sharing a truck. If the two kids can come up with a way that they both want to play with the truck by convincing and persuading each other, this is a great way to play with the truck! If they can’t, they’ll both be unhappy and better off taking turns, doing it their own way.
Have you found a way of getting on the same page in certain areas, and functioning with two separate ways of doing things in others areas? Let me know in the comments.