Why your Friendship Needs Compromise (And how to go About it)

Do you ever wonder how some people do it? They hold on to friendships year after year, through up’s and down’s, silly arguments, busy schedules, and bad days. Keeping a friendship strong over time can definitely be a challenge. So what’s the secret?

One word: Compromise. Maybe you disagree on the direction for your group project, or the theme for your joint birthday party. Maybe you just can’t decide which movie you should see this weekend. In cases like these, learning to compromise can have a massive impact on your social relationships. You just have to make sure you’re doing it right. A successful compromise will leave you and your friend feeling like your voice is heard, and your opinion is valued. And while you may have to make some sacrifices, you can still reach an outcome that makes you happy. Most importantly, you’ll avoid doing any major damage to your friendship.

So here’s how you do it:

Explain your Point of View: You probably have a good reason for wanting things your way. And your friend probably has some good reasons of his/her own. You won’t get anywhere, simply by insisting your idea is better. You’re going to have to explain your thinking, and give your friend the chance to do the same. Make sure to be calm and polite. No yelling. No tears. No name calling. Just let your friend know what you’re thinking. Listen as they explain their point of view. Discuss the pro’s and con’s of each possibility. You may both discover more to each other’s opinions than initially meets the eye.

Ask Questions:
If you still have doubts about your friend’s opinion, don’t dismiss them just yet. Ask questions about the parts of their suggestion that concern you. For example, they may want your group project to take the form of a powerpoint presentation, but you could be worried about running into technical difficulties. If that’s the case, find out how they’d fix a potential computer glitch. Maybe they really know their stuff, and the things you’re worried about are a nonissue. You won’t know unless you ask. So be sure you’re giving your friends a chance to explain themselves fully, and address your concerns. Even if you still can’t see eye-to-eye, they will appreciate your efforts to meet them half way.

Explore the Middle Ground: Sometimes, you just won’t agree with your friends, no matter how much you try to talk through the situation. This is when you need to start exploring some brand new options. Revisit the pro’s and con’s of each original suggestion. Then, try to come up with an idea that combines the best of both. Maybe your friend wants to use technology in that group presentation, but you think your classmates will pay closer attention if you perform a skit. In this example, you may try filming a video for the presentation. This way, you’ll get to use technology and performance to draw in your audience. Finding the middle ground can definitely be a bit challenging, but if you work together, you’ll be able to figure something out. And you may even have fun doing it!

Stick to your word: A compromise only works if both people stick to the agreement. There’s going to be give and take. You will have to make a sacrifice, and your friend will have to do the same thing. Don’t back out once you’ve gotten what you wanted. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep. Compromising is not about tricking your friend into doing things your way. It is about finding resolutions that make both people happy. So if you are the only one who walks away happy, you have not successfully compromised, and you could be hurting your friendship. If you want your friends to know they can trust and depend on you, you have to keep your word.

Sometimes compromising can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. It just means you and your friend both need to work a little harder to understand one another’s point of view. Once you finally reach an outcome that makes you both happy, you will be glad you made the effort. Plus, you’ll both know you worked together to overcome a challenge, and that will only make the friendship grow stronger!

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More