The Joys of Compromise

Now, anyone who knew me years ago would have seen, I think, that that title contained two words that were, in my case, mutually incompatible. I did (and still do on occasion) find compromise not easy to accommodate. So, friends knew me as someone who enjoyed an argument, something that I would continue with long after the point under discussion was lost in the heat of the exchange. In reality of course, I would often consider what others had said and, where necessary, change my mind (in private). However, much of the joy was in the actual argument itself. And my point is?

Well, that “win at all costs” mentality may actually win you the argument. It is, however, just as likely to be counterproductive and lose you a great deal more. Happily for me, much of my time in the voluntary sector was about discussion and persuading people, which I did to good effect. Even there, however, I could be somewhat abrasive. Indeed a good friend introduced me at the launch of one of my books by saying “In working with Mike, one of the things that I’ve noticed is that, if you’re a bit worried about the answer, it’s probably best not to ask him the question”. He meant it as a compliment and I took it as such. It did, though, relate to that abrasiveness. So, what’s new?

Well, it’s that those years of therapy have had an effect in this area of my life as with the others and, although I can still hold a good argument, in personal situations, I find that I’m able to bite my tongue. What that means in practice is that I don’t have to have the last word and do take note of what others have to say. In sharp contrast, it has to be said, to interrupting with yet another ace.

I noticed it first in talking to Gaynor, my wife. She has always had strong beliefs which she puts into practice. She is, though, of a quieter disposition to me and I find that, if I bite that “ever ready” tongue, what she has to say is of, at least, equal import to me and makes me think. It has also, to my mind, been crucial to the strength and duration of our relationship as one of the, previously unconsidered, “joys of compromise”. So, here’s a thank you and the anticipation that it may continue for many years to come.

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