The value of compromise

No matter what you think of Ronald Reagan’s politics during his years as President of the United States, no one can dispute that he was a powerful negotiator and knew the value of compromise.

Unfortunately, we as a society seem to have lost that vision, whether you’re talking about politics, business, or in personal relationships. I can’t tell you how unfortunate that is! We are so afraid of losing our ground that we each stand on our respective sides of the ever-widening gaps between us.

The truth is, nothing moves forward without compromise.

Now, I’m not telling you to give up on your core beliefs. Every person and company have core values and core beliefs that they would never go against and that’s a good thing! But that still provides a lot of room to “give” on most, if not all, issues.

Here’s why you need to learn to “kick the can down the road,” so to speak. By failing to compromise, you’re not accomplishing anything. You’re not finding solutions to problems. When solutions or decisions are put off, people get hurt. Every time.

The truth is, everyone had influence. You have the power to convince someone of your viewpoint. Even if they don’t come to your side of the fence, you can help them at least understand your point and that will make them more willing to join you somewhere in the middle. Too often, however, we find ourselves in gridlock and both sides are unwilling to move.

Let me use a vendor/retailer relationship as an example. Imagine two circles and one is the retailer and one is the vendor. Within each circle includes what each entity wants to accomplish and what they have to offer the other entity. Like most compromise situations, there will only be what I’d say is about a 25 percent overlap between the two circles.

But it boils down to this: the retailer must have something to sell to stay in business. The vendor must have a place to sell their products for them to stay in business. The two need each other and ultimately, their goals are to stay in business. That 25 percent is the compromise.

Outside of that 25 percent is where the goals and needs will be different but letting that get in the way of finally reaching some deal will only mean failure for both. Smart people understand that if either side walks away, they both lose.

On the other hand, it’s also important to realize that the side that has the most influence in that 25 percent overlap is the one that wins the bigger portion in the compromise. I go back to the idea that we all have a sphere of influence and we must use that ability to win more people to our point of view.

Finally, I want to talk about how to compromise. Really, it’s just finding common ground while never giving up your core values. You must find the common ground in the flexible areas. And both parties must realize that the overlap not only represents their compromise, but their common ground.

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