Like many of you I have been watching with increasing frustration the daily debacle coming from Washington. Rather than just fume I’ve decided to try to turn this into a teachable moment. I’m not going to play the blame game – there’s more than enough blame to cover the professional politicians involved in this mess. Instead, let’s look at this in terms of compromise and consensus.
Compromise is a term often used to characterize negotiations. “Everyone has to compromise” is the phrase often heard, usually an instruction from the party in power to the weaker party, right? How many of you have been involved in negotiations where demands were made on you to give up something in order for you to gain something? Here’s the problem. If what you have to give up has a greater perceived value than what you receive how willing are you to compromise? Compromise works best when mature adults engage in a balancing act where the guiding principle is fairness, not getting one over on someone.
Consensus is defined as achieving general agreement through harmony. The starting point is the focus on the issue or situation, usually accompanied by an objective identification of the problems. When engaged in trying to find a general agreement mature adults use creative and critical thinking skills. Again, the guiding principle is fairness. The parties involved in consensus are not asked to give up anything in order to gain something in return. Consensus works best when the communication stays open and fair. Ultimately what results generally treats the staff fairly. Isn’t it an accepted business practice that if you do right by the people who work for you they will do right by the organization?
So which approach works best for you?