I think we can all agree that no two people will ever get along all the time. Whether it’s your parents, your siblings, your friends, or your significant other (or all of the above), you’re going to fight occasionally. Sometimes, you just know that you’re right about something. Other times, you are convinced that they are wrong. (And no, that isn’t necessarily the same thing.) Occasionally, you know full and darn well that you’re in the wrong, but you’re just too stubborn to admit defeat. Sometimes it’s a matter of opinion. Sometimes it’s a battle of will.
Whatever the reason, the result is the same: relationships are hard to build and maintain. I know that this reality can be a hard pill to swallow. After all, we’ve grown up in a world where relationships are romanticized and simplified. Look at any TV show or movie with even the slightest romantic subplot – it’s like the characters just fall into love without any effort and go on to live happily ever after. Even with friendships or family relationships, there’s no real effort that we see in the world around us. Relationships look easy. Effortless.
Spoiler alert: they aren’t.
You’re not always going to go together like peanut butter and jelly. You’re not always going to have the same opinions about things, and you’re certainly not going to be able to avoid the occasional miscommunication. Any relationship, whether it’s romantic or not, take conscious effort to cultivate. I’ve talked about this before: whatever your relationship with another person, love and positivity in that relationship is a choice that you have to actively make.
Learn to listen to others. I like to say that we need to learn how to listen for comprehension. Too often these days, people listen for the means to their next rebuttal. People don’t listen because they care what others have to say, they just listen because they want to find the way to prove others wrong. But that won’t ever work. Why? It breeds a mindset in which people think that they are always in the right. It makes both sides aggressive, and it destroys the possibility of understanding.
So I entreat you: listen. Try to understand your parents or your siblings or your significant other. It’s okay not to agree on everything! You are all your own people, and you shouldn’t be carbon copies of one another. Can you imagine how boring that would be? But it does nobody any good to completely ignore an alternative viewpoint. We all have so much that we could learn from each other, if only we put a little effort toward understanding. So listen, and listen hard. Put your effort into understanding others, not shooting them down or attempting to disprove their opinions.
You’ll be happier for it, I promise.
This is where the art of compromise comes in. (A lost art, if you ask me.) In case you’re wondering, the official definition of the word is, “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions.” In my opinion, the compromise is the savior of a good relationship. Let’s break this down, shall we?
A compromise is a settlement of differences. Okay, that’s pretty straightforward. You and your (insert relationship title here) don’t agree on (insert argument here). Maybe it’s something as simple as what to have for dinner tonight. Maybe it’s something else. A compromise will help you find a solution to whatever the issue is in a way that works for both of you. (By the way, agreeing to disagree is a valid compromise, and is sometimes the best thing you can do.)
A compromise is a settlement of differences by mutual concessions. If only one of you yields to the other, it’s not a compromise. This is so important, and is something that took me years to understand. You shouldn’t have to roll over and let someone impress their opinions or demands on you. That is a toxic relationship, and if that is the situation that you are in, I highly recommend that you reevaluate the relationship. Relationships are built on a certain level of give and take. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who “wins.” It matters that you are able to get through your petty disagreements and come out stronger on the other side. As an extra note, sometimes “letting” your (insert relationship title here) “win” is okay, and sometimes biting your tongue is acceptable. (Just don’t let anybody drown out what makes you you.)
Build your relationships by listening and compromising, and you’ll have stronger relationships. And we can all benefit from that.