Some people view compromise as a weakness. “Strong people don’t compromise,” they say. They’re the kind of folks who declare their position, put a stake in the ground, and stand their ground at all cost. It doesn’t matter whether it’s business or personal. The outcome is still the same. What do they forfeit with this behavior?
If you define winning as getting the upper hand, backing your opponent into a corner, and winning at any expense, you’ve got it all wrong. You may win in the short term, but think about the relationship going forward. Do those actions build trust, teamwork, and respect? I think not. You’ve probably created enough animosity, distrust, and jealousy to last a lifetime. In other words, you may have won the battle, but lost the war. There’s a better way…winning doesn’t have to be at someone’s expense.
Compromise: A Win-Win Strategy
Some people need to win at all costs because their ego won’t accept anything less. They’d rather win personally than accomplish something meaningful. Compromise isn’t a synonym for surrender; it’s a winning battle plan. Here are six principles to serve as guidelines:
- Serve a higher purpose rather than bowing to self-interests.
Marriage isn’t a union of competing interests. In the same way, a relationship flourishes when people seek a common purpose greater than optimizing their individual position.
- Identify common interests.
Compromise flourishes when you promote win-win rather than win-lose, focus on what you can achieve rather than on what you can’t, listen attentively to each other’s needs rather than promoting your own, and show a strong willingness to serve the greater good rather than your own interests.
- Focus on the relationship as much as the results.
Relationships thrive when trust, teamwork, and respect form the bedrock of your dealings. The process can be compared to dating before marriage. Trust must be carefully constructed, vigorously nurtured, and constantly reinforced. Take the high ground in the relationship and do what’s right. Be open and honest –– closed-door meetings and backroom deals breed contempt. Demonstrate the true meaning of give-and-take through your actions rather than your words. Vigorously debate issues, but never attack someone personally or back them into a corner. Let them save face and preserve their dignity.
- Ensure that actions lead to mutual gains.
Relationships prosper when everyone benefits. Prepare to concede short-term wins to secure long-term gains. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t keep score –– it breeds envy. Benefits don’t have to be equal, but they should be fair. Be aware if benefits are shifting too much in your favor. If that occurs, find creative ways to even the score. The bottom line…never win at the expense of the relationship.
- Focus on performance rather than petty politics.
Relationships flourish when people are civil and respectful of each other’s views. Discourage politics, gamesmanship, or any act that tarnishes the relationship. Remember: Opponents don’t have to be enemies.
- Compromise your position, but not your principles.
There will be times when your conscience prohibits you from compromising. Present your case without grandstanding or demeaning someone who has an opposing view. Keep the disagreement between yourself and the other individual rather than going public. Respectfully agree to disagree.
Is Compromise an Ugly Word?
Don’t think every battle has winners and losers…many times there are just losers. A winner-take-all mentality not only impedes progress, it leads to gamesmanship, confrontation, and even resentment. Someone wins; someone loses. Long term, it’s everyone’s loss. That’s a no-win strategy.
Compromise is a mindset, not an activity. It doesn’t mean surrendering your values. The key is identifying common interests where everyone benefits. You build together and you win together. The fact is, you won’t always get everything you want, but you’ll always be moving in the right direction and building a trusting relationship in the process. There is an old adage that you can’t win them all. In this case, you can.
Do You Compromise?
Please leave a comment and tell us what you think or share it with someone who can benefit from the information.
Building Bridges: We’re All In This Together
Win-Win Business Relationships
Fair Is Fair
The Values on Which Trust Rests
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Gene Baker says
A compromise is a lose-lose because both parties give up something for the other. A win-win situation is a collaboration. Where the parties work together without compromise. Why would I compromise and take something I bring to the table off, when all I need to do is work a little harder and make a collaboration happen instead where me and the opposing view both give something that we bring to the table up. I’d rather have an open mind, work harder and feel more complete, which is actually a win-win.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Hey Gene —
In most cases when two parties get together, they’re both scheming how to gain as much as they can from one another. Is that any way to build a relationship.
When everyone tries to gain the upper hand, we all lose — hands down.
You may be thinking, “If I don’t advocate for myself, who will?” Rather than focusing solely on your needs, identify opportunities where you can mutually benefit. In other words, think win-win rather than winner-take-all.
Winning doesn’t have to be at someone’s expense. Instead of focusing on what you want, focus on how much you can accomplish together. In many cases you’ll gain more jointly than you could alone. Win-win is cooperative, not competitive.
As I said, “The fact is, you won’t always get everything you want, but you’ll always be moving in the right direction and building a trusting relationship in the process.” That’s a WIN!
Thanks for taking the time to write.