Respect & Compromise

There was an interesting thought floating around the internet a year or so ago that I found pretty insightful. I’ll share it here, though this isn’t original to me:

“Some people take the term ‘respect’ to mean ‘treat like an authority figure.’ Other people take the term ‘respect’ to mean ‘treat like a person.’ And then there are people who seamlessly interchange the two when it suits them – they’re the authority figures who say ‘if you respect me, I’ll respect you.’ What they mean is, ‘if you treat me like an authority figure, I’ll treat you like a person.'”

I find that matches my experience pretty well. Some people like to redefine common terms to suit their personal agendas. Sometimes this is done in a negative way – like saying “meat is murder!” You want to associate a common thing that you dislike with a universally bad concept. But other times it’s done to associate something bad with a good term in order to sell it.

One such word is ‘compromise.’

Most people define it like this – you give a little, you get a little, we meet in the middle of what we both want but still reach a deal that’s better than no deal at all.

But some people try to sneak in a different, shady definition that goes like this: “Compromise means that when I demand something from you for nothing and you don’t want to do it, we agree that you do half of it and call it a day.” That’s like asking someone for $100, and when they say no, saying “okay, let’s compromise and call it $50.”

Superficially, it feels like a compromise. You wanted me to give you a hundred bucks and I wanted to give you nothing, so $50 is in the middle. And if you’re quick enough you might pull that over on some people in many different contexts. You’ll get half of an unreasonable demand instead of a whole one, but you’ll be out the door before they question why they gave you anything at all.

Be careful of people trying to pull this trick. People who want to “compromise” often want to pull you in their direction without actually offering anything back. That’s not a compromise – it’s swindling.

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