The last blog stirred some desire for people to have examples of what the no-compromise game really looks like in action for further understanding. Playing the no-compromise game in relating is a communication game that starts with getting clear about needs and values. Before playing the game it is worth exploring these to figure out what is really important to you.
I understand the phrase ‘no-compromise’ may sound like a “my way or the highway” attitude and as you’ll see in the examples I give, it is actually about connection and everyone’s needs being met.
A classic relationship sore spot might be things like the toilet seat being left up or the toothpaste lid left off and other niggling things. So, people may say to themselves things like “Terry is such an inconsiderate d**khead, he can’t even …” and choose to compromise by shutting up and putting up with things. Judgement may even turn inward – “It’s such a little thing, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I am so petty.” These types of giving in or putting up with, is form of compromise laced with resentment, blame and judgements.
To start up the no-compromise game, begin by communicating feelings and needs without blame or judgement.
It may sound something like “Hey Terry, I have something to say and I’m feeling a little vulnerable because it seems trivial on the surface ….. I’m starting to feel a building frustration each time I notice that the kitchen is left in a mess, I would like some consideration as I really enjoy the ease and sense of peace that comes when I am in a clean house. Can we talk about this now?”
Now the trick with explaining scenarios is that this conversation can easily become very defensive as it moves along and heads to compromise. To answer all the devil’s advocates out there. This is true. However, when this happens, the no-compromise game is over and connection is no longer happening. The sole purpose of the no-compromise game is to discover understanding, develop more connection in order to find ways that meet everyone’s needs.
Some possibilities of opening a no-compromise conversation with Terry in the situation above may trigger a reaction and defensiveness within him. This does not mean the fun of the game is over, it has just began. Such a reaction may indicate his needs are going unmet and perhaps he too has been compromising with resentful feelings. Dwelling in the needs together rather than the drama of reactions and taking things personally can lead to understanding beyond conflict. To follow with the example, if Terry reacts defensively, his wife Jane can offer empathy. Something like “sounds like you’re upset and needing consideration for how exhausted you feel and to have choice for when you like to clean up?” She is not compromising her needs but seeking to understand Terry’s needs as well.
As the game continues and both become really clear about their needs and values, then things can evolve into ways of being together as a win/win situation. A simple outcome for Jane and Terry may be that Jane feels reassured Terry will clean the kitchen once he has had time to relax and will do it in his own time. It is still important to her but she understands it will be done, unlike when she was believing it was just going to be left for her to clean up. Terry too, gains more understanding of Jane’s needs. Although Terry is happy to leave the mess for a few hours, it is no-compromise for him in his free will to clean up 15 minutes after he has finished eating out of consideration for Jane. With a new understanding Terry may find he is meeting more of his needs because of the love he feels when he is contributing to Jane’s needs and values, and he loves to contribute. They both understand and appreciate their needs are different and find ways that are meeting even more of their needs than before.
At deeper level, a conversation about needs around seemingly trivial things may lead to deeper understandings of how niggling things are simply symbolic of deeper issues in a relationship. There may be hurtful dynamics of mistrust, jealousy and resentment that are far greater concerns than the toothpaste lid that brings the feelings to the surface. These smaller frustrations can open the relationship to deeper truth that may never be realised when we are choosing to compromise or accidentally compromising ourselves. If we are honest with ourselves this may even reveal that the relationship is not supportive to each other. We can then gift each other with compassionate well wishes to greater potentials in love and life and end the relationship. A win/win situation.
Another important aspect when dwelling in needs together is to consider how much are we expecting an intimate partner to be THE ONE meeting our needs. Our culture strongly influences relationships to be in in isolation, whether this is with parenting children or intimate relationships. Our needs can be even more abundantly met living in a conscious community of people.