Compromise: Request or Demand

On days I don’t work, my routine, along with my wife when she too is not working, is to go to Barnes and Noble to relax, read, write and enjoy the ambiance.  Today as I was getting my drink and apple pie I saw a lady with two young children with her.  I was actually going the wrong way out of line as she was getting in line.  As we met she apologized for coming the right way – I thought that was a little strange but realized she was doing as she had been taught, say something when greeting someone you don’t know.  So, she apologized.  I said it was I “going out the indoor.” She laughed and moved forward in line.  She was talking to her two children.  She mentioned to them that they would have to compromise in order to get something.  As the time in line progressed I realized that compromise met getting what the mother wanted them to get.


As I sat and drank my Soy Chai Latte I again heard the mother say, this time in a firmer tone.  You guys have to compromise.  There was more urgency in her tone, she sounded frustrated.  When I heard this statement I said to myself, “If you “have” to compromise, it is not a compromise it is a demand.”  Now I can only imagine the stress this mother was dealing with.  It happened to be during the holidays and she is out with her children in public.  The children, by the way, appeared to be around the age of 5 and 4.  Her stress and frustration had mounted and her demand of “having to compromise” had reached its peak.  The children acquiesced and compromised, but only after her mother mentioned Santa and Christmas.  The children went to a table and sat down as they waited for their mother.


As I observed this conversation I realized no one within the conversation seemed to connect to their feelings and needs and of course were not able to truly hear the others involved.  I wonder how the conversation would have gone if the mother would have said:


Mother:  Kids, I am really stressed out and pretty frustrated and need some ease while we are here at the bookstore.  To contribute to my ease would you two please be willing to let me order for you as you wait at the table for me?  I have limited money so I will do my best to get us all what we want to snack on.  How does that sound?


Maybe the kids were excited to be out at the bookstore and wanted to enjoy all they could at the store.   I know if the kids were able to hear their mom, and she was able to hear them there would have been a heart exchange and a different atmosphere within the family.  Then their conversation might have been life affirming rather than demanding and threatening.  Through Compassionate Communication we understand to truly get our needs met we connect with what we are feeling and needing and request the other person(s) to contribute to us through their response to our request.  When this occurs everyone’s needs are met and the giving, or contribution or “compromise” is from the heart and not given because someone has “authority” and is demanding it from me.  With Compassionate Communication there is empathic communication, and in the situation above, there can be ease and peace for the mother and there can be enjoyment of the day at Barnes and Noble for her children.  There “can” be a happier life.

Joy to You!


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