Leona O'Neill: Compromise is not a dirty word - so what's going on at Stormont?

Let’s see if we can re-awaken again the art of compromise we learned in primary school and apply it to the adult stuff that needs to get sorted out at Stormont in order to get things back on track, writes Leona O'Neill...

Kids learn how to compromise in the playground - so what happened to our politicians?
Kids learn how to compromise in the playground - so what happened to our politicians?

COMPROMISE is a skill that we teach our children in our homes and throughout their school years. It’s hugely important that we learn this skill so that it can help us navigate life’s many challenges successfully and not get stuck, unable to move forward.  

It’s important in relationships, in the workplace and in society. The lack of compromise in all sorts of situations and scenarios can cause significant problems and allow those small problems to fester, get worse and become big problems. 

When people have conflicting interests or needs, compromise can help to find a middle ground and resolve the conflict. This can lead to better relationships and avoid negative outcomes such as resentment or anger. 

Compromise fosters cooperation and teamwork because it requires people to work together to find a solution that works for everyone. This can create a positive environment and lead to better outcomes for all involved. It encourages people to listen to each other and understand different perspectives. This can lead to increased empathy and respect for others, which can improve relationships and communication. 

And compromise can build trust between people because it shows a willingness to work together and find common ground. This can lead to stronger relationships and more effective collaboration in the future. It’s not exactly rocket science, but compromise is all good. 

Teaching children the importance of compromise is essential because it is a skill that they will need throughout their lives.  

In teaching them compromise, we help them to develop their problem-solving skills. They learn to look for solutions that work for everyone, which can be useful in all areas of life. 

Compromise encourages children to consider the needs and wants of others, which can help to develop empathy and respect for others. It is also a key factor in building healthy relationships. By learning to compromise, children can learn to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and build strong relationships. 

When children are able to come up with solutions that work for everyone, they feel a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. This can help to build their confidence and empower them to tackle more significant challenges. 

By learning how to compromise, children can become more independent problem-solvers, which can be useful in so many areas of their lives, now and in the future. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking some people in Northern Ireland were sick the day the importance of compromise lesson was happening in school. Take a look at our political sphere and those revolving around it. Compromise is almost a dirty word in some circles. Some folks clearly went to the ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ school of thought and that helps precisely no one.  

Remaining stuck in our ways does nothing. Indeed, it generally results in us remaining stuck. Not seeing other people’s perspective achieves the same goal, as does the refusal to speak to one another, work with one another, sit in the same room as one another. 

Remember in school when a row broke out and the teacher pulled the two people together in the Principal’s office? The two sides were given a chance to explain what happened. People were given the opportunity to work it out, apologise. Common ground was found. A compromise was reached. The issue wasn’t allowed to fester and cause further resentment and further problems, perhaps sucking other parties into the abyss.  

Let’s take that out of the Principal’s office and place it in Stormont. Let’s see if we can awaken again the compromise skills we learned in primary school as children and apply them to the adult stuff that needs to get sorted on the hill in order for things to get back on track for Northern Ireland.  

Compromise is not a dirty word. 

Playground politics should be left in the past, along with a whole host of other things that hold this place back, that stops us reaching our full potential, that stops life becoming what it should be here 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement.