Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 9 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts    H4'ed 2/26/12

The Danger of Compromise

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   5 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Elaine Shpungin
Become a Fan
  (3 fans)

Picture a stand-off between multiple parties.

Perhaps it is between representatives of two nations sitting across a long polished table as they butt heads over a piece of land, or perhaps it is between red-faced members of an organization fighting over a budget item, voices raised, or maybe its kids on a grassy field arguing about which game to play.

In our case, this morning, it was between our 9 yr old son (on sofa, arms crossed, body tight, face scowling) and his dad (on living room rug, visibly slowing down his breathing to be "patient," feet planted firmly).

As with most such cases, the disagreement is initially played out not at the level of intentions, values or underlying needs (safety, choice, consideration) but at the level of STRATEGIES or actions (my son wants to eat his Top Food Choice for breakfast; we want him to eat Third Food Choice, so I could pack Top Food Choice for his school lunch; we have been out of Second Food Choice for a couple of days now).

It may or may not help you to know that, because our son's diet is severely limited by health considerations, balancing tastiness, variety and nutrition in his meals can be a challenge in our family. Or that my husband is working hard, right now, to be "patient" and engage in (and model) nonviolent, non-coercive approaches to conflict.

The bottom line is that there is always a story. Both sides have unmet needs and, often, underlying tensions on which the conflict seems to build. And that is exactly the point I want to make today.


As with many stand-offs, large and small, the clock in our home this morning was ticking, and our son seemed deeply entrenched in his position -- giving things a simultaneous sense of semi-urgency and semi-hopelessness.

Thus, my husband, with the intention of showing kindness and sowing harmony, offered a compromise. He'd make a quick run to the grocery store for Second Food Choice and our son would (a) eat Second Food Choice and (b) work on getting himself together to where he could speak to us respectfully again.

Waiting for my husband to return from the store I puttered around the kitchen, silent and brooding. My lived experience -- and my understanding of conflict through years of studying Non Violent Communication and Restorative Circles (a particular restorative justice practice developed by Dominic Barter in the Brazilian favelas) -- told me that this would not be the panacea we hoped for.


Sure enough, after having gotten Second Choice, as agreed upon, my son attacked his sister over a small act, using a sarcastic and angry tone with her that left her confused and pouty. Hearing our son speak rudely to his sister after the trouble he had gone to that morning, my husband now erupted in anger.

Pausing everyone I spoke about what I was seeing.

"Hey guys!" I said, "I am guessing you both believe, right now, that you did a favor for the other. Is that true?"

"Well, yes," my son said as though that was obvious. "I am doing you guys a favor by eating what I did not want to eat."

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Elaine Shpungin Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Elaine Shpungin, Ph.D. is a student and practitioner of Non Violent Communication (NVC) and Restorative Circles (RC).

She is currently exploring restorative and non-violent approaches to conflict and ways to meaningfully share power in (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Five WikiLeaks Myths and their Disturbing Truth

Speaking While Upset: Moving from Destructive to Constructive in 6 Simple Steps

3 Steps that Transform Sibling Conflict into Sibling Camaraderie

Avatar: Tantalizing Possibilities Laced With Disappointment

The Most Important Thing to Know About Conflict

The Key to Getting the Relationship and Love You Want

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend