Independence, compromise and collaboration

Spring has come which is why the rainbows are visiting our early morning wall paper..beautiful.

I don’t know if you have this in your relationships, especially with your significant others, but we seem to struggle with getting the balance right between what each of individually needs and what the group called ‘family’ needs.

You and Me - independent
You and Me – independent

When we first meet and fall in love, we do as as independent people, with our own values, ways of doing things, likes and dislikes.  Part of what attracts us to someone is what makes them unique to us.

So how does that work when you start to share more of your lives?

  • How much do you do independently?
  • Do you have enough time to do your own thing?
  • How could you get more time?

This morning, driving back from town, the kids and I enjoyed singing a long to Now 89 whereas P would much rather have been listening to Radio 4 (he may well have missed the Archers..eeek!)

He compromised.

Compromise is when one or both, or many of us give up part of what we want in order to allow the other people to have some of what they want.

  • How do you compromise in your life? Family? Relationship?
  • How do the other people in your life compromise for you?
  • Who does the most compromising?
  • How do you feel about the compromises you make?

One of the ways we compromise in the car is that P listens to the radio, the kids put headphones in and listen to CDs and I put in earplugs to day dream.  We all get to do what we want.  But we are each giving up something here as well.  I don’t it when it feels like we are all in our own different worlds and the earphones and plugs are never good enough to completely block out the Archers.  The kids don’t get to sing aloud together and P doesn’t get to listen to the Archers without the tinny sound coming from the kids headphones as the music leaks out.

compromise
compromise

So the ‘us’  bit is the compromise bit, but if you look at what has happened to the circles labelled ‘you’ and ‘me’, they have got smaller as they have given up some of what they wanted to achieve the ‘us’.

Compromise 2
Compromise 2

Sometimes compromise is not only necessary, but desirable.  In our work we have to compromise, to play as a team. With friends we might stay later or leave earlier than we wanted in order to be with each other.

Families are complex and there as the kids get older I am realising that they are resenting compromising where they used to.  Today we took the dog for a walk on the way into town..neither son wanted to but they had to go along with it as they were with us…so they had to compromise.  In the end they enjoyed it, but it feels like more and more they are wanting to be included in decisions which have previously been adult decisions.

Compromise can sometimes feel tiring and long term I think it eats away at our sense of self.  In my marriage I compromised the point where I had forgotten what I liked and wanted.

I’m always looking for role models and advice on how to do things differently so when Carmel talked about ‘collaboration’ on a recent Barefoot Coaching Course, it sunk in.

I think collaboration looks like this:

collaboration - bigger than the sum of it's parts

Collaboration – bigger than the sum of it’s parts

Collaboration is where I still get to be me, you still get to be you and we find a way to meet both our needs.  I think this means expanding what we do, think and feel to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

  • When do you collaborate?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • How does it compare to compromise?
  • Where else can you collaborate?

Alex is doing some work on the house and has brought people to help him; ‘2 people do more than 2 people’s work’ he said, and it seems to be true looking at the pace they are getting through the work.  Collaboration means they create more in the same amount of time.

Compromise seem to me to create less and can also create feelings of resentment.

So this morning, if I’d worked this out by then (but then I seem to learn best from my mistakes), we could have sat over breakfast and put all our needs for the day on the table to see how to create a map that was big enough to encompass us all.

And so back to the rainbow.  The rainbow is so beautiful because all the colours come together to create something new.  They don’t stop being blue, or indigo or violet…they add to each other rather than subtract and so create a beautiful whole which is different from and more stunning than their individual hues.

Of course you could take it further and argue that there is no such thing as a separate colour as they are all on the same spectrum and so how can you tell where one shade of green fades into another? Where does one start and the other end?

The same can also be said in families, even in blended families, because all of us our connected so even when we are being ‘independent’ we are all still connected.  Even in our absence we are connected.

So I’m going to experiment with what collaboration looks like in family life…how we can bring all our different colour together to make a rainbow, or all our notes together to make music.

  • What will you do?
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