Win some, lose some and sometimes, find middle ground. Life is a series of compromises, whether it’s a discussion with your spouse about vacation spots, an argument with your kids about bedtime, or a one on one with your boss about the latest project. We all love to win, but not at the expense of someone else’s pride. It’s best, for the most part, to find a compromise that lets everyone feel they’ve come out a winner. Remember the words of the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu: “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.”
Knowing when to stand your ground and when to graciously compromise is a gift. Begin by seeking a compromise rather than a victory. It’s hard for the truly competitive, but it’s really the only way to ensure everyone walks away satisfied, if not happy. Not sure when to stand your ground and when to look for that middle path? Don’t know how to pick your battles? Have a look at our list of our 10 ways to know when to take a deep breath and stand the heck down.
1. Pick your battles: Safety First
Always be firm when you choose your battles if it’s a matter of health or safety—either someone else’s and certainly your own. You take the keys away from the party guest who has had one too many and you insist on bike helmets.
2. Will it matter to you in the future?
Your daughter leaves the house in full Goth makeup and your son pierces his eyebrow. Yelling won’t help, but biting your tongue might. In a year, five years, ten, will their style choices really matter? The answer is probably not. Insist on the hygienic piercing of eyebrows and the cleansing of faces and try to shift your focus onto the stuff that really matters, like who they are spending their time, what they’re reading and how they’re spending their time online.
3. Are you letting your pride get in the way?
Pride is a great barometer of how one should behave in the throes of a disagreement. Watch yourself closely for this emotion and see if that is what is driving your desire to win. Next time you’re in an argument, ask yourself, “Am I really right, or is my pride trying to take over?”
4. Do you have a better alternative?
Don’t push when you don’t have a better solution of your own. You can choose your battles by knowing when to allow someone with more expertise or information to lead in that particular matter. Strive to be a team player.
5. Is it a battle you can actually win?
Is your partner realistically going to give up Thanksgiving with the folks in favor of a couple’s getaway? You probably know the answer. Why start a fight you can’t win for an outcome you know you can’t change?
6. Know Your Priorities
The state of your son’s room might cause arguments, but he’s the one that’s got to live with it, not you. You can close the door, trust that he’ll sort himself out one day, and spend your time on your own to-dos.
7. pick your battles: Practice Empathy
To wisely pick your battles, you have to listen to the other person, which is the beginning of compromise. Give them the chance to state their opinion, state your own and work toward an agreement. Don’t get defensive, instead try to hear the meaning behind their words.
8. Are you motivated by power?
There are competitive people who HAVE to dominate and enjoy throwing their weight around. If the ultimate goal is to show you’re the one in charge, start to see that and do your best to work on it.
9. Are your core values involved?
Know what you’re willing to give up to reach compromise and what you won’t give up regardless of the issue. Make no apologies for standing by the principals in which you believe.
10. Are you speaking for someone who can’t speak for themselves?
It’s important to stand up for the rights of others. Children, the elderly and the disabled all need champions. It’s never wrong to be a champion.
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