A compromise is a negotiation between two or more parties, either individuals or groups, that helps to reach a mutually agreed upon decision. Essential to the idea of a mutual agreement is that each person or group participating in the agreement must make the decision to surrender some of the things he, she, or they would want in order to hopefully get the things most desired. Compromise exists in all aspects of life: in matters of business, relationships, and so on. Even personally, an individual may have to find a middle ground with his or her desires in order to reach the most workable arrangements for pursuing a life.
In relationships, such as spousal relationships, it’s usually agreed that the ability to compromise can enhance each partner’s experience of the relationship. Since people are individuals, it’s seldom the case that two people will agree on everything. Most reasonable individuals are able to negotiate with their partners in order to give up things that aren’t important, and to get the things that are.
A couple might negotiate about the share of housework each partner will do, the way in which children are raised, or just the specific tasks each person needs to do for the day. A couple that decides one person will pick up the kids while the other stays home to do the laundry has made a compromise. Neither might particularly want either of these chores, but they get the things done that are needed so that life runs smoothly.
Conversely, couples who cannot make such agreements tend to have significant troubles. When each party in a marriage sees him or herself as entitled to more than the other party, a middle ground may be very hard to reach. If one partner is adamant about not making any concessions, the other partner must decide to either concede everything and let the partner be dominant, or to try to argue it out. Couples may spend time in therapy learning how to make concessions and to value their partners.
In business, there are many situations where compromises must be reached. Sometimes, a person doesn’t get a choice. A boss may tell an employee that he needs work done, and there’s nothing that person can negotiate or demand from the boss in return. On the other hand, a place where agreements are frequently reached is through labor negotiations. Unions and heads of companies must frequently reach mutual agreements that are acceptable to all parties.
Workers might wish greater salaries, but may have to be more shift flexible to achieve them. When two groups negotiate, both agree to take less but still to take something, often in very specific terms and through processes like mediation. Failure to reach an agreement can lead to workers who strike and refuse to return to their jobs until problems at work are resolved.
To be uncompromising is not always negative. A person with an uncompromising sense of ethics isn’t easily swayed to become less ethical. Being continually inflexible in all aspects of life opens a person up to a constant battle on many fronts, however. As a human being, it’s important to decide what areas of your life are most important, and what areas of your life, work, or relationships can be more flexibly constructed. The phrase "pick your battles" applies, as people need to decide when they can make concessions in order to avoid constant clashes with parents, spouses, children, bosses or others.