• Compromise

The Third Way

May 13, 2015

As therapists, we often hear of compromise being referred to as a lose-lose scenario. Compromise seems to be considered more of a method of conflict de-escalation for managing opposing viewpoints rather than an exciting opportunity to see things in a completely new way. In couples work, we repeatedly refer to the Third Way as a way of reframing the idea of compromise to reflect on it as a completely different choice – one of creativity, connection and excitement, where both parties can win.

How do you practice the Third Way?

  • By looking for alternatives that are close to neither option, but appeal to both
  • By taking a step back to consider alternatives that value what is most important to both people
  • By being invested in everyone’s happiness, not only your own
  • By realizing that short-term “winning” can result in long-term “losing” (i.e., you could lose your relationship—with a perspective toward always “winning”)
  • By being compassionate toward your partner
  • By valuing your relationship over any one decision outcome

The next time you hit a moment of compromise with your partner, consider the Third Way together and spend some time playing with the notion and working to create a solution together.

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