November 22, 2018
Author: Bianca Yang
Compromise — an agreement that is reached by each side making concessions
A compromise is dangerous and fundamentally incomplete because of the concessions.
To concede is to give up something. It means to buckle, to unwillingly back down.
That is dangerous. It’s dangerous because you will have difficulty coming to closure about what you gave up. It will sit with you and fester, and when the issue comes up again, that thing you conceded will emerge as a djinn from a lamp and make the conversation painful.
The solution is to never compromise. Rather, both sides should seek to come to full agreement. You should truly convince each other or convince yourselves that the conclusion is in alignment with your principles and beliefs. Or you can agree to disagree. In both situations, you give up nothing. In the first, you truthfully changed your beliefs, such that whatever you came to a conclusion about jives with who you are. In the second, you also give up nothing. Both situations avoid having either side feel like they were treated unjustly or feel the need to hold a grudge against the other.
The issue with compromise is just part of the truth where, if you don’t resolve something now, it will come back to bite you later. A compromise isn’t a resolution, because the compromise clashes with something of what either side believes. Until you truly agree with the compromise, that internal discord cannot be resolved.
Let me give a concrete example to assuage any internal dissatisfaction you may feel over my words: You and your teammates are discussing which of the five features you’ve collectively developed is the most useful. Each feature group fights for itself, and everybody gets frustrated because no one else sees the value of the feature they worked so hard on. You could compromise and say that let’s just use whatever majority vote decides is the best. You could also make the smarter decision to agree to disagree until you’ve gotten data back from rigorous A/B testing.
Once you get the data back from A/B testing, you may discover that feature B is universally superior. You may also discover that each feature serves a particular niche and that various features should be automatically set by looking at header data. Or there may be no real conclusion, which would imply that you need to gather more data or make a decision based on some other criteria.
- The point is that compromise only adds to a pool of hidden resentment that will ultimately undermine relationships. The solution is to work at the disagreement until both parties are convinced of the conclusion.