“Come visit me in Korea”
“It’s too far; meet us half-way.”
“What do you mean, ‘half-way’?”
“Let’s meet in Hawaii!”
When I first moved to South Korea, of course I wanted my family to come visit me. Not only did I want to see them, but I also wanted to share what I loved about my new home with them. However, for the first few years my parents resisted, citing the 14-hour flight as the main reason not to come. They always offered a compromise, though; they loved visiting Hawaii!
While I always enjoyed our trips to Hawaii – who wouldn’t?! – it only satisfied one part of my reason for inviting them to visit me.
It seems to me that “compromise” is what most people think of when they think of win-win solutions. Give a little; take a little; meet in the middle. However, is this always the best approach?
While it is good that both sides move towards each other, it often leaves one or both parties feeling dissatisfied with the results. While this might not be a problem with everyday issues, in the larger conflicts of our time, a compromise might only postpone the fight to another day.
The compromising style takes much less time to reach a solution than the collaborative style, so it is a great approach when time is short and a quick fix is needed. It can be more effective than the competing, avoiding, and accommodating styles because both sides get what they want at least partially. Also, in relationships where the give-and-take can even out over time, any dissatisfaction with the outcome may be short-lived.
I suggest using the compromising approach sparingly. When time allows, I believe the collaborative style produces longer-lasting results; however, when time is short, or if a stop-gap measure is needed quickly, a compromise might be a good starting point. And you never know – you might really enjoy the compromise!
Check out the rest of this series!
Links and Resources:
An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton
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