The Art Of Relating

With Christine Kniffen, LCSW, Therapist & Relationship Coach

The Art Of Compromise

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According to dictionary.com, compromise is defined as, “A settlement of differences by mutual concession”. I thought that perhaps, as someone who works daily to mediate the differences between individuals in couples counseling, I might have some points worth pondering when it comes to the greater good of the country. I advocate not for any position that I agree with, as we all think we are right from time to time, but instead want to focus on the art of compromise in general and why it is in such seemingly short supply these days.

You simply cannot have a healthy relationship without the element of compromise. You are different people and will have differing points of view. And yes, while we may all feel right from time to time regarding our particular position on a matter, this does not necessarily mean that we are in fact right. Therefore, when our positions are at odds with one another we have to come up with a reasonable compromise for each person to feel valued and respected in having found resolve to a particular issue. We must come to accept the idea that differences do not equate to right and wrong regarding most things.
They are merely differences. In order for a solid, working relationship to be had this fundamental concept must be both accepted and used as a starting point in which to work out problems. A relationship is an implied democracy of two. And, just as compromise is needed to get along in this realm, the same is essential for a working democracy of millions right here in this country.

The political arena has become quite contentious these days. The country seems to be fairly equally divided into one camp or the other, while a small percentage claims to be up for persuasion. Yet, it seems all too often in politics that compromise is something in short supply. If two cannot get along without compromise, how can we expect a whole country to be able to work together when it seems to be missing? This is not helped by the general trend of the television media. Most stations get two people to sit down when it comes to debating a contentious issue. This includes a person from the left of the spectrum and one from the right. This in turn presents the illusion that there are only two opinions one can have regarding a particular issue. And, since one opinion sounds so distasteful to half of the country, they then cling harder to their position, feeling that there is no gray in terms of solutions and thus no room for compromise in the equation.

For example, we can decry regulation as being a block to growth or we can have the viewpoint that unfettered regulation combined with the new levels of human greed is a recipe for disaster. As usual I see some truth in both of those statements. As a therapist I know that the extremes of all or nothing thinking results in something that is terribly out-of-balance. One political party wants to regulate just about everything and another wants to regulate nothing. I see potential problems with both of these scenarios. We take away too much regulation and the financial collapse occurs. Or, we regulate everything until the bureaucratic red tape binds us up, making it impossible for people to get into the game. This is the basic problem with government today. We wildly shift back and forth from one administration to the other, never really solving the problems by finding the balance required to smoothly run a democracy.

Here’s a novel idea for those in charge. Let’s stop riling up the people with this see-saw nonsense and start to work together to make compromise and finally move forward on the country’s biggest issues at hand. In compromise everyone is a winner because each side gets some of what it wanted, versus half the people getting none of what they want. Surely I cannot be the only person who lives somewhere in the middle, seeking a balance to restore trust and decency in working with our fellow man.

Christine Kniffen, LCSW is a Relationship Coach and Therapist. For a free consultation call 314-374-8396.

Meet Christine at the Healthy Planet Expo, Oct. 14 and get a signed copy of her new book, The Art of Relating, A Primer For Love.