Knowing how to (intelligently) give-and-take is a vital career skill.
It’s not clear how or why, but in recent years compromise seems to have become a dirty word.
No longer the venerable art of give-a-little-to-get-a-little, compromise is for many people a sign of weakness. It’s for losers, they claim, and it leads to mediocrity.
But no. Compromise is your go-to option when faced with an uncontrolled and sustained conflict. Very often the only way to power through a standoff is to cede a bit of ground, providing a mini-success that helps people start to work together again.
You don’t have to jettison any strongly held beliefs. You merely need to let your “opponents” know that while you fundamentally disagree with them, you do want to find a middle ground you can all live with.
It helps considerably if you understand everyone’s true needs. These are not always obvious. For example, colleagues who don’t want to take on certain tasks may say, “That’s not my job,” when what they really mean is “I don’t know how to do that job” or “I fear I can’t do that job.”
More tips: Be transparent about your intentions. Your honesty will inspire the same in others. Try offering more than one option to resolving a problem. (Everybody likes choices.) Keep your emotions under control, reminding yourself that the ability to compromise is a sign of strength, maturity and self-confidence. And when it’s over, let it be over.
When compromising you should, of course, never sacrifice your integrity, your self-respect or your health. Fortunately, in most business situations those things will seldom be asked of you. The vast majority of compromises are rather humdrum, a simple discovery of that sweet spot where all parties get some, not all, of what they desire.
You may also encounter situations where something is just not worth fighting over. So don’t. Pick your battles, saving your energy and social capital for the really important matters.
A failure to compromise is an enormous waste of time, money and energy, often harming innocent people in the process. Plus no one can function in an atmosphere of mutual distrust. Putting aside your ego and pride to resolve conflict builds stronger and healthier relationships, and allows everyone to move forward. Compromise makes you a winner, not a loser.