Interdependence & Compromise



We are all interdependent, and our choices as human beings impact one another. If my personal needs are met but the needs I am holding with care for others are not met, my needs are not met overall.


If my personal needs are met but the needs I am holding with care for others are not met, my needs are not met overall.

Here are some questions I have been considering:

-How do I depend on others to get my needs met?

-What are ways that my actions impact others and society's needs?

-How can I hold everyone's needs with care?

-What if my current needs and those of another make it difficult to find a solution that meets both needs?



A Simple Personal Example:

Last night, I planned an evening to write a blog post, and I needed some solo time and space in my office to concentrate. Then, my husband got home from work and said he had a hard day. He needed affection and nurturing.


If I had told him, "Sorry babe, I need to go into the other room and focus so I can create some good content tonight." This would have met the need for space and creativity I desired at that moment. However, it would not have met my need to hold his needs with care and my additional deeper needs of intimacy and closeness with my husband.


Although I may have high-priority needs/wants at a particular moment, I also have many other deeper needs. One of the biggest is the care and consideration of others' needs.


Although I may have high-priority particular needs/wants at the moment, I also have many other needs. One of the biggest being the care and consideration of others' needs as well.

In this example, if I disregarded his need for some affection and nurturing after his difficult day to meet my primary needs at that moment, that would break the connection between us. He would likely grow to resent me.


Now, what if I saw myself "giving in to his needs" for affection and nurturing and disregarding my needs? In that case, I would most likely feel resentful.


So, what to do?

I take a moment to self-connect. In my mind, this is what I'm saying, "Yes, I wanted to be alone tonight and focus on getting this content created.


However, I also value closeness and intimacy with my husband.


If I try to meet my need for space and creativity tonight, I may risk not satisfying my need for closeness and intimacy.


Additionally, I would not be holding his needs with much care.


So I'm going to choose to meet my needs for space and creativity tomorrow and meet my needs for closeness, intimacy, connection, and care for his needs this evening."


Don't confuse this with "compromising." Compromising is when both parties lose a little, and neither person is thrilled with the outcome. That is NOT the goal. Furthermore, compromising still tends to lead to resentment.


When you tap into your feelings and needs and consider the other person's feelings and needs to find a strategy to meet as many needs as possible, this is the goal.


Compromising is when both parties lose a little, and neither person is thrilled with the outcome. That is NOT the goal. Furthermore, compromising still tends to lead to resentment.

By taking these moments to connect with ourselves and our own needs, we are more available to consider and care for the other person's needs.



A More Complex Personal Example:



There will be situations where this is more challenging than others. From my own experience, this seems to be much more difficult for me when I don't have a deep connection to the other person or group of people. I had this occur in an intensive non-violent communication (NVC) course.


We were in these 10-hour all-day retreats via Zoom two days in a row, and the instructor had given the cohort some group agreements/rules that I was struggling to follow. One of the rules was that the instructor would give us periodic breaks throughout the day but not at pre-determined times or lengths. Another was that we were not allowed to eat unless we were on break. Many times, I was hungry or had Zoom fatigue and I didn't like not knowing when the next break would be.


Additionally, I desired more choice and freedom around when I would eat during the day and when I needed rest on these long days. Generally speaking, I don't enjoy being at the mercy of someone else's schedule or power, which is why I work for myself.


I communicated my feelings and needs around this to the instructor and the group. The instructor and a few group members had a strong desire to uphold the commitment to the break format set forth at the beginning of the program. Some cohort members felt uncomfortable seeing others eat while on Zoom because they wanted everyone to be fully present and they saw food as distracting.


It was very challenging for me to hold the other party's needs with care because I perceived they didn't care about my need for freedom and choice. I'm an adult and paying for this course, dammit. And, I felt upset about that!


The "Solution"


Finally, after long, I mean long hours of discussion, we came to the best strategy that we could come up with. I felt shafted and resentful because it felt more like a compromise than a genuine solution to meet all needs present.


The solution was: if I am starving, I can briefly turn off my Zoom camera and eat quickly, and if I need rest, I can talk to the group about it to assess the impact on them and then take some rest off camera if it met everyone's needs.


But, this still didn't meet my need for choice and freedom. I didn't want to have to hear the impact of taking a rest break every time I needed one, and I desired the option to eat for however long I needed without it being on an emergency-only basis.


When we came to the best strategy that we could come up with, I still felt shafted and resentful because it to me, it felt more like a compromise than a genuine solution to meet all needs present.


What did I learn from this?

So, I learned from this situation that I find it much easier to hold all needs with care when I am actually in a closer relationship with the other person or party. I found this situation with my NVC course-mates hard because I had never met them in person and did not have a very close relationship with them. Maybe as time goes on, situations like these will become easier for me to hold others' needs with care when I'm not very close with them. This is the beauty of being a work in progress.


 




Give this concept a try! This is a two or more person activity:


Conflict:

There is a tree on the property line between two neighbors. It is large and provides a lot of shade. One neighbor wants to plant a garden in the area near the tree. It is the only space there is room and would require trimming the branches. The other neighbor wants the tree and the shade to remain intact. Each person or group meets separately to process.


Questions:

  1. What needs are you holding that relate to you personally and your desired outcome?

  2. What needs are you holding that relate to the process, other people, or the world?

  3. Choose a strategy that is at the obvious cost of others' needs. How does this impact you? How does this impact the other?

  4. Choose a strategy that is at the cost of your needs. How does that impact you? How does it impact the other?


Resolution:

Come together and try your strategies above and see how they land, feel, and impact all parties.


Work together to find a strategy that meets the most needs possible.




I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please share below in the comments!

Cheers,

Erika Baum


"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

-Mahatma Gandhi

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