The Psychology of Compromise – 6 Steps to do it right

Compromise is one thing I hate to engage in (like pineapple on pizza). Chances are, so do you.

Compromise is hard

Why is it so hard? Simply put, because it means you aren’t getting everything you want. Well hey, self-awareness is the first step, right? Our ancestors survived by being selfish.

Today, however, survival isn’t really what our struggle is about. The struggle revolves around the pursuit of a greater quality of life which requires the very opposite; compromise. We are pre-programmed to implement egotistical actions to achieve survival only to now live in a society that denotes the very notion.


We are still trying to reprogram our fundamentals which is partly why it is such a difficult skill to learn. It is at odds with our ancestral viewpoints, it is our comfort zone. Many social advances were made in spite of our biology.

You know what group of people rarely compromise? Babies. Yes, that was a dig at you.


It is when your mum takes your toy only to pass it to another kid while lecturing you about the importance of sharing i.e. compromise. You didn’t like it then and you don’t like it now. While we are now better at hiding our annoyance about it, because we are trying very hard not to have a temper tantrum, we still do not enjoy the prospect of letting go of some of our desires, but at the very least, we start to understand the necessity of it.

A scale

So here are a few things to keep in mind when you are on the verge of compromise:

1) 50/50. A compromise is the act of meeting someone halfway. If the other party is perfectly capable of doing the same but is choosing not to, it is not a compromise. It’s a sacrifice. Don’t do it.

2) Don’t do it for the wrong reasons.  Do not compromise simply to avoid conflict; this will lead to long-term tension and grudge-holding. Avoidance should not fuel your decisions. Take the long route and resolve it.

3) Compromise when it’s right, whether you enjoy it or not (because chances are, you won’t). This means you aren’t compromising on your values.

4) Understand and remind yourself of the necessity for it; compromising essentially puts your needs on the same level as the other. It is the acceptance that you are on the same playing field.

5) Listen.  An effective compromise can only come from meeting the other’s demands equally. The first step of processing what those are and how to do so fairly takes proper communication, 80% of which is listening.

6) Make it clear. Do not compromise in hopes that the other party will do the same. Verbalise your expectations and clarify your actions. There are no mind readers.

We do it

We don’t like it but we do it. It has now become a fundamental concept to ensure healthy and fair relationships. The good thing about compromise, however, is it allows you to self-analyse.

10 thoughts on “The Psychology of Compromise – 6 Steps to do it right

Add yours

  1. We were pre-programmed to implement egotistical actions to achieve survival only to now live in a society that denotes the very notion 👍🏼👍🏼
    Very good read!

  2. I like this post despite the hate on pineapples (aggressively shoves pineapple pizza in my mouth) XD
    You made some really good points, especially #2. I do that a lot because I’m remarkably spineless. Thanks for the advice; I’ll keep it at the front of my mind for future reference 🙂

    1. Haha that gave me a great visual image there – cheers for that. I’m sorry, but if you actually eat pineapples on pizza (and I quote a meme) “I hope you like pineapple slices on your children’s graves because you’re weak, your bloodline is weak, and you will not survive the winter”. 🌚

      You don’t seem spineless to me, I mean you did just aggressively devour pineapple pizza to make a point 😁 Seriously though, thank you for reading and glad you got something out of it!

  3. Great post! Have you read anything on emotional intelligence? I read Daniel Goleman’s book on it and that sparked my fascination with this whole “fighting/using our natural instincts to win at life” thing you touched on.

    1. Thank you, and no I haven’t! I studied psychology for two years where a lot of ancestral traits were discussed. Those have a lot to do with phobias and these sort of rational fears. Really interesting topic, I agree.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: