The Danger of Compromise


Compromise can occasionally be a great solution to conflict and disagreement. However, it can also be a solution that provides only a bad answer with no one feeling good about it.

In sports, most Americans hate games that end in a tie. It is so unsettling to people that over time, almost every sport has added a tie-breaker system. The idea that a tie means each team “did their best” is just not how most of us are wired. Even the players and coaches would rather get to play for an eventual win, even if it means a greater risk of losing.

I suggest that whenever possible, compromise should be avoided.  Instead, win and lose gracefully. In fact, try not to think of it as winning and losing.

One way to do this is to not let it become overly personal. Yes, you should stand up for your opinion and facts. But it does not have to be about being right, being best or someone losing. In business, be a professional regardless of the outcome. In your personal life, remember that your family and friends are still your loved ones, not entities to beat into submission or royalty to which you must submit. In the greater scheme of business and life, most debates and decisions will be long forgotten as the years go past.  These issues are likely not the epicenter of the universe, so don’t try to make them such!

Please keep in mind that healthy relationships, in life and work, do not require you forfeit your boundaries. A healthy relationship will respect appropriate boundaries.

So what happens if someone always insists that their way is right and must be the way things are done?  Well, understanding your boundaries and whether these boundaries are respected will tell far more about the other person than they can ever tell you verbally. The same can be said about how you behave.

Understanding inappropriate compromise is a hard thing to get a grasp on but understanding this can be very healthy. And it will make your communication more effective as you focus on what is acceptable to you, not just what others may think of you.


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.