- Why compromise?
- Tips to help you negotiate
- What if I’m the only one compromising?
When people have different and clashing needs, compromise can be a useful strategy. Compromise is where both people make a concession in order to get what they want.
Some people see any compromise as a kind of failure, and pride themselves on getting exactly what they want from people through clever negotiation. There are two main disadvantages to this approach:
- Getting what you want at the expense of someone else is likely to involve some dishonesty, manipulation or abuse of power. This may clash with your personal beliefs about how people should behave with each other, and you will be left feeling uncomfortable with your behaviour on some level.
- The other person will be left feeling dissatisfied, cheated or upset. This is likely to damage your chances of having a good relationship with this person in the future, and they are unlikely to trust you again in a similar negotiation. They may also tell their friends or colleagues about your behaviour.
Ideally, honest negotiation and compromise will leave both people feeling satisfied with the solution and will help to build a good ongoing relationship.
Tips to help you negotiate
To give your negotiation the best chance of a good result, it might help to:
- Spend some time before the negotiation thinking about your needs and how important different factors are to you. What are you willing to be flexible about? What alternative solutions might there be?
- Pick a good time and place for your negotiation (e.g. not five minutes before a Brigade member or colleague is about to go home). Be clear with the other person about the purpose for your chat to give them time to prepare.
- Leave plenty of time for each of you to state your positions. Use active listening to try and draw out any hidden needs from the other person, e.g. ‘You say you need to get forgo your Brigade responsibilities. Could you tell me more about that?’
- Try not to get overly emotional, although it may be relevant to let the other person know how you’re feeling, e.g. ‘I’ve been feeling really annoyed about this situation’.
- When you are both clear about each other’s positions, brainstorm as many possible solutions as you can. Write things down even if they seem silly. You might want to ask a friend or colleague to help – they may come up with ideas you’ve missed.
- Agree on a solution you are both happy with. You may want to choose a solution that almost fits and do some further bargaining, e.g. ‘I’m willing to help you with some of your duties if you could help me with mine in a fortnight’.
- You might want to agree a ‘review’ to see how you feel the solution is working after a period of time.
What if I’m the only one compromising?
Ongoing relationships are more important to most of us than getting exactly what we want in every situation. However, if we feel we are the only one making concessions, resentment will slowly build up and will eventually make it difficult for us to stay on good terms with the other person. If you feel this happening:
- Ask a neutral friend for their opinion to check that you’re seeing things objectively. It might also be appropriate to have a conversation with the other person and ask them what they feel they are giving up to get what they want. This might help you to see the situation differently.
- How clear are you being about your needs? It might be useful to try again, e.g. ‘I’m not sure if I’ve made it clear, but I really need to go home, early on Wednesdays. Could we arrange another discussion about that?
- Is there any extra support you can get? This might be a neutral colleague in your Brigade, or having a friend come up with some alternative solutions.
- It may be appropriate to let the other person know how you are feeling about dealing with them, and that as a consequence you are considering walking away. Try not to use this as a threat, but as an honest statement about your position. This will give them a final chance to change their approach before you withdraw.
- Once you’ve carefully weighed up the benefits and disadvantages to you of this relationship, and made a good attempt at resolving things, it might be best for you to withdraw from the relationship for the time being.
Compromising can be a bit of a balancing act. However if both people are honest about what they want, with creative thinking it is usually possible to come up with a solution that leaves both people happy.