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Reviving the Spirit of Compromise
3 Habits to Turn to When Cooperation Seems Impossible
its root, it just means leveraging the talents of everyone to accomplish things individuals never could have in isolation. When a team works well together, especially if the members share different perspectives, their skills can be enhanced and pushed to heights unreachable by any lone individual. Whether you’re in Congress or business or volunteering in your local HOA, living a full life is about forging mutually beneficial relationships. If you focus all your energy telling others why they are wrong and why your way is right, I don’t think you will be very productive or very successful. I think I have mentioned it before, but I also think it bears repeating: Ronald Reagan famously had a plaque on his desk in the Oval Office that read, “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.” What an interesting contrast to today’s political “leaders” who get practically nothing done and solve none of the real problems that our country faces but take credit for refusing to compromise, as if that is a laudable achievement. If we conducted business in this manner, most of us would have no customers and we would be unemployed. It seems that the older I get, the more I appreciate what a great leader Ronald Reagan was ...
First there’s habit number four: “Think win- win.” Covey believes that in order to genuinely work together, we must be sincerely interested in helping out one another. Instead of one group dominating the other, it’s essential that everyone walks away from the negotiating table better off. Then there’s habit number five: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Too many people these days have this one backward, and I’m including myself in that statement. I find myself getting caught up trying to convince others why I’m right and why they should see things my way. It’s much more challenging to first pause and extend your empathy to the person across the table, listening and trying to piece together the world as they see it. It’s taken me a long time to learn, but I have found that when I’m talking, I can’t listen very well; but it’s in the moments of listening that I learn the most. Not to mention that when I do get to sit down and really communicate with folks with a different perspective, I usually discover that we have more in common than we ever would’ve imagined. Finally, there’s habit number six: “synergize.” This has become a bit of a business buzzword, but at
Whatever happened to the spirit of compromise? Looking at the news lately, I think compromise has become a four letter word. Regardless of which side you’re on, I’m sure you can agree that it seems almost impossible these days for folks of differing perspectives to come together to agree on practically anything . I have faith that eventually we’ll find a way forward to formulate win-win solutions to our biggest problems, but you have to admit that right now, overcoming all the single-minded and self-righteous indignation from all sides is going to be a serious challenge. Ever since I first read Stephen R. Covey’s pioneering book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” I’ve tried to remember to put his advice into practice. I think it’s instructive to note that not one, not two, but three of Covey’s seven habits have to do directly with cooperation, which I think is another word for compromise. I’m certainly not an expert, but in my opinion, the first step to successful cooperation is to admit that you don’t have all the answers, and I definitely do not. But I do think that in dealing with one another, these habits can be incredibly helpful.
There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.” -Ronald Reagan
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