The concept of “compromise” has fascinated me since childhood as it was here that my mother, like most “mothers” teach their kids that when playing with others that “compromise” is simply the “right” thing to do. However, that (from my mother) sounded suspiciously like being “fair“, which slapped in the face of the most important advice my father ever gave me, “that life isn’t“. Now please don’t take me as cynical, however simply practical as life is full of human beings who all (yes even you) have their own agendas and therefore their own prejudices about “things” and the way life should be. As this brings me back to thinking about the complex act of “compromise” as in a true “compromise” both parties lose, however before going here we should look at the anatomy of the beast first.
As in a business context (many moons ago) the axiom was put in the context of a story concerning “two old maids“, yes maybe a little less than politically correct for this day and age, however let’s go with it anyway. As these two spinsters who lived together in a small white house with a picket fence out front both decided to make themselves a treat one Sunday afternoon. The first decided and declared to the other she was going to make a cool glass of fresh “lemonade” while the other was more ambitious setting her sights and sweet tooth on a “lemon meringue” pie. However as both meet at the refrigerator, they found to their mutual dismay, only one lemon was left in the house! While depending upon who is telling the story anything from fisticuffs to colorful words were exchanged with at least minor shoving involved.
Well with this said, in the end cooler heads did prevail with both realizing that the old maid wishing the pie only needed the zest from the peel which would be left over from the squeezed lemon used to make the “ lemonade” so both got their way through compromise. However in the end, where was the give and take as both wholly got what they wanted thus there wasn’t a “compromise” as exceptions where not made. Ok, so I’m sounding now a bit like the Myth Busters, however its easy to say the story is “busted” when it comes to this one.
To see the difference, lets carry out another little experiment what might hit closer to home as you and your significant other are heading out to the restaurant for dinner. After grabbing your keys, you pipe up and say “I’m in the mood for Chinese” with a smile and thoughts of the Happy Dragon Restaurant floating in your head as you can just taste that Sweet and Sour Chicken now. However fate isn’t so kind as your hit back with a retort of “not again” I was hoping for Italian! What to do, while to save you the pain of reliving this, you both “settle” for Mexican as you “compromise” because it’s closer. So in short “neither” gets what they want and both parties, while their stomachs maybe full, are still left a bit empty…