Saturday, April 30, 2022

Helping couples to move from compromise to consensus




I often see couples who use the word “compromise”.

They feel that they have to compromise on many different things. Although they believe that compromise is important, it has lead to much resentments over the years.

We explored a shift in mindset to “reach for consensus” rather than compromise.

So what is the difference?

I often see “compromising” is something “external compass” folks tend to do at the cost of their “inner compass” i.e. their principles, values and beliefs.

“External compass” folks tend to make decisions based on the feelings, rules, or principles of others in order for workability and external harmony, and so they “compromise” their own internal principles or values in order to make it work.

In the right doses, it’s workable, but with over reliance, it may lead to a lot of inner disharmony and resentment.

Reaching consensus is the other way.

It’s more about following our own values and beliefs, COUPLED with understanding, appreciating, and allowing others to have their own values and beliefs, AND through that deeper understanding, we try to reach consensus. It’s not about imposing on each other, but each is empowered to reach “consensus”.

A lot of “holding space” with critical thinking and critical feeling is required and so it’s not easy.

The key difference is, compromise has emotional resistance. Consensus has more emotional acceptance.

Compromise is a “logical, practical and intellectual agreement” in order to make something work.

Consensus is a deeper “emotional agreement”. It requires a deeper dive into the values and beliefs of both parties, and holding space for opposing ideas without judgement before judging to make it work i.e. reaching consensus.

Compromise tries to achieve outer harmony but often at the cost of inner harmony.

Consensus tries to achieve both inner and outer harmony.

In business, one can usually get away with “compromise” because it’s more emotionally detached.

In long term personal relationships, compromise tends to end up in emotional problems eventually.

It’s hard but it’s more emotionally sustainable.

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