Don’t Be Compromised By Compromise

April 26, 2011

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary offers two main ways to think about compromise:

1. settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions

2. a concession to something derogatory or prejudicial <a compromise of principles>

Reasonable people often disagree about “the right thing to do.” If you are never willing to compromise with people that don’t see things exactly as you do, you probably won’t accomplish much as a leader.

I’ve found there is a big difference between someone that asks me to compromise, and someone that tells me I have to compromise. The person that asks me to meet somewhere in the middle usually cares about me even if they disagree with my position; the person that tells me all the compromise has to come from me usually cares more about himself than anyone else, and he is either unable or unwilling to see this perilous vice.

I’m totally willing to compromise, but I absolutely refuse to be compromised by compromise. I can work with anyone that I believe has the greater good of the group in mind, even if we slightly disagree on group goals or how to achieve them.

But I will always unapologetically oppose the folks I believe are blinded by hubris and selfish ambition. I’m thankful that for me, it’s personal.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Kneale Mann says:

    I think we are taught at an early age that compromise is the way of the world. You have to meet them halfway, it’s a team effort and any other cliche you can think of that is a part of relational navigation.

    I’ve been giving this much thought lately in my practice. I have great people around me who are offering help on a daily basis with regards to honing my offer, doing better prospecting, being clearly on what how I can help and the overall sales process. Often the topic of compromise comes up but lately it’s become more of a concrete process.

    Be crystal clear on your strengths and how you can help others. Be clear on what your time is worth and the types of companies/organizations/people you want to work with and understand they are deciding if they can work with you but you also need to decipher the same.

    The old adage I win/you win is alive and well and will not be achieve it is not I win/you lose or you win/I compromise.

    As we gain experience, we realize that there are those wired to offer dangling carrots as a means to “save a buck” and that is simply not a good enough reason to engage in a relationship.

    It is up to us which carrots we will eat, not them or the relationship will be based on they win/you lose and that is simply not a great starting point for all involved.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Excellent advice, Kneale. As you know, when you don’t take the dangled carrot of you win/I compromise, you have to be prepared for a nasty, personal response. They want folks to know and remember that we did not compromise and take it as a negative, but as we look in the mirror I hope we learn to wear it as a badge of pride. Thanks! Bret

  2. Jim Taggart says:

    One view on compromise is that it produces weakened outcomes. The person who best challenged tis orthodoxy was Mary Parker Follett (dubbed the prophet of management by the late Peter Drucker). Follett’s work, which dates back close to a century ago, sought to encourage people to explore integrated solutions, in which no one had to surrender his or her beliefs or desired result. Of course, this means thinking laterally and using one’s creativity, competencies that are sorely lacking in society.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Integration is impossible in competition. People driven by ego set up these competitions so they can win when you lose. I personally have no taste for that. Thank, Jim! Bret

    Jim Taggart Reply:

    I’m referring more to organizations, or even community, family, etc. issues. Sports is of course another dimension. Unfortunately, companies set up unhealthy competition, spawning to what you note. The public sector, where I worked for three decades, is notorius for this, maybe even worse than the private sector in some ways.

    I’d propose that the exceedingly difficult challenges facing those leading organizations demands a new approach to how problems and issues are addressed. Win-lose doesn’t work, and actually weakens the organization. Compromise can work, but also leads frequently to sub-standard solutions.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Totally concur, Jim. When you set up competition, you are creating the conditions where you tell the majority of folks they are losers. That’s never made sense to me. Thanks for adding so much value to this conversations! Bret