Compromise: The Real Deal For You and Me (and for our Government?)

There’s been a lot of talk about raising the debt ceiling. At the time of this writing, the President and Republican-led House are at a stalemate on the U.S. debt ceiling, agreeing that the ceiling needs raising, but neither side agreeing to the Compromise. Doesn’t all this bickering make you feel better about your professional and personal relationships and your willingness to compromise? Every day we are compromising on things large and small. We settle our differences, show tolerance and sacrifice with our colleagues, our loved ones and even strangers. We make concessions for our bosses and peers who we don’t always see eye to eye with, and we give a little to get what we want. And as communicators, we’re really good at making sure the Compromise is recognized by our stakeholders.

We are The Best Compromisers in the World, right?  Wrong!!

There’s a dark side to compromise – on one hand, our parents taught us to play well in the sandbox, to lose some battles to win the big war, to not be so darn possessive and share our possessions. (Most parents taught this, at least). On the other hand, college professors and mentors, and profiles of leading businesspeople point to the weakness behind compromise. You compromise, you don’t reach your full potential in the situation and you’re committing to something you find objectionable.

Do we want our President to compromise what he thinks is right? And what of our elected state representatives? No wonder there’s a stalemate. Never mind the bright green tie that Boehner wore on TV Monday night or the tired look on Obama’s face. There’s something bigger at stake.

Even Mohandas Gandhi recognized the challenges behind Compromise:

“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.”

And Janis Joplin advised: “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”

So we’ve got Joplin and Gandhi tilted toward sticking to your “guns” and we’ve got a culture where Compromise is often seen as a weakness. Really, though, it’s a strength.

The ability to reach a compromise on the things that really matter through collaboration and recalibration is the way forward for each of us, in our careers and personal lives. The debt ceiling Really Matters. Our marriage Really Matters.  Personal safety Really Matters. There are hundreds of instances in which you shouldn’t compromise. For the most part, though, we should be Daily Compromisers.

We’re all pretty sure there will be a Compromise on the Debt Ceiling. Unfortunately, one side will be deemed the winner and the other the loser despite the final and smart decision to Compromise.

— Diane Schwartz

On Twitter: @dianeschwartz

  • Debbie Friez

    Great post, Diane!

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