The conventional approach to compromise is that it is a necessary component for healthy relationships. The usual line is: To have a good relationship, you need to compromise. We couldn’t disagree more. The common definition of compromise is that one party concedes to the other. And if we look up concede, we find the word defeat. Essentially one party has to sacrifice what they want. You can see how with just a little digging, compromise (conceding, defeat, and sacrifice) doesn’t sound like a desired ingredient for good relationships, rather it appears to be the fertile ground for resentment, mistrust, and competition.
It seems to boil down to the question: In order for one person to get what they want, i.e. win, does the other need to lose? We say an assertive NO. Mutuality and mutual-wins come from communication and enrollment. If before heading into any decision, both parties were to decide this needs to be a total win for both of us, think how differently they would bring themselves to that conversation.
Once we are willing to reveal our whole truth, why something matters to us, and how much we care about it working out well for everyone, our ability to come up with mutually beneficial solutions is amazingly increased. Starting with the intention that everyone is going to walk away with what they want, can and will drastically change the outcome of the conversation.
If you are thinking this is too Pollyanna, well maybe it is. But we would rather imagine and act consistent with a future of mutual wins than settle for the conventional win-lose model that has been the source of so many unworkable outcomes.