We don’t always get our way, or what we want. This fact of life is summarized in dozens of different idioms from “you win some, you lose some” to “agree to disagree” and–the greatest epiphany of them all–“tomorrow’s another day.” All very insightful and thought-provoking but admittedly, none of them seem like thrilling proverbs you’d want to offer or–worse–receive.
Yet those seemingly uninspired baubles of grim reality are, if not wholly encouraging, truthful. We do win at some things and we might lose at other things. And, most certainly, tomorrow is a different day. But how does that help us now? We’re professionals, parents, partners–we need things to go perfectly today! What could we learn from exercising that awful, icky word–compromise?
Yes, compromise. It really doesn’t mean crippling values or quality. Psychology Professor Christopher Peterson, Ph.D, observes for Psychology Today, “The good sense of compromise is finding a common ground with another person, as in reaching a mutual agreement about a difficult course of action affecting both of you.”
Matt Trombley, a senior vice president with Customer Remediation. Trombley, in his TED Talk, emphasizes the benefits of seeking common ground with those in our lives, even those we disagree with. He advocates a perspective acknowledging that “our relationship is way more important than the things that separate us.”
When entering a conflict or negotiation, we should always consider our priorities. What do we need most out of this arrangement? Do we need our name attached to the finished result, or can we be satisfied with being a team player that got it over the line? What’s at stake in the relationship if we aren’t able to find common ground?
Author Robert Taibbi, also for Psychology Today, suggests, “The key is stepping back and being clear in your own mind what you want before you start talking…Decide how important, on a scale of 1-10 how important this issue is.”
Successful compromise happens when we understand what we really want and know what others need as well. Clinical Counselor Dale Eilerman writes in his piece for Mediate.com about compromise in conflict management, “if the focus is on what is achieved, rather than on what has been given up, there is a greater likelihood that the parties will leave with feelings of satisfaction and acceptance.”
Like so many things in life, perspective is key. Is your cup half-empty, or half-full? Today, try seeing the full cup…and you might find what you were looking for all along.
“A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece.”— Ludwig Erhard
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