Lately, I’ve been thinking long and hard about the concept of compromise. To many (and I used to be one of them), this term connotes weakness or a lack of principles and/or discipline. Therefore, compromise is typically something to avoid for the most part especially if you didn’t want to experience that little pang of guilt for giving in.
For the past two months, I decided to take mental notes of how often, when, and why I compromised and really reflect on the value of the compromise. I spend the majority of my day at work, with other people and dynamic situations and relationships. Naturally, what I found was that most of my compromises occurred at work.
Either because of my deliberate actions to recognize compromises or because I am actually compromising more lately — the chicken or the egg problem — I noticed there are many days of late in which the work day barely comes to an end without a compromise.
It is such a common occurrence because it seems like I am always trying to find common ground between teams, or merging different approaches to the same problem, or bridging personalities with people who don’t [or barely] get along, or all of the above simultaneously! I also find that many days the act of compromising is exhausting — physically, mentally, and emotionally.
However, it’s not just the lows, it is exhausting in part of the highs as well. I realize that I actually get a rush of adrenalin when I see people reach those agreements needed in a course of action, or when I see a team where teammates were so hostile to each other that I had to step in and calm down the situation… And yet, at the end of the 2-day workshop, the team still produced and creatively pitched a solution to a problem. Had this team failed to compromise — to set aside their differences — they would have failed.
Thus, in this case as in many cases I’ve learned lately, a failure to compromise is a failure to succeed. Compromise is needed to unify a team, to build relationships, to move an organization forward, and ultimately, make progress. I care about where I work. I care about my teammates and how we get along. I care about what happens to them and how they are treated as well as how they treat others. And because I care, I find value in compromising when dealing with others. Its rewards and benefits are definitely worth it compared to the alternative.
- When was the last time you found yourself compromising?
- How did you feel about yourself for compromising?
- What was the value – rewards or benefits – for compromising?