Work through difficult decision-making with compromise

Compromise can be vital to success, especially when conflict has rendered efforts stagnant. While agreeing to a compromise can take some time and effort and may be difficult to accept, doing so often is the only viable path to success.

It is very rare in today’s world to find 100 percent agreement on anything. Unanimity is so rare, in fact, that should you come across it, you may find yourself very skeptical. The reality is that the complex and dynamic issues we face in our communities often require responses that involve the participation of individuals and organizations that may share common goals, but also have their own ideas and interests that may be in conflict with others. In lesser matters, these issues can be worked out very quickly. However, when these matters become critical to the very success of the task at hand and you are facing a difficult roadblock, Michigan State University Extension recommends that you try to compromise, which can provide the means to success.

To achieve compromise, there first must be mutual respect, trust and understanding between the parties involved in the decision-making process. While the conflicting interests may have imposed a certain level of frustration between the parties, all must remember and recognize the common goal(s) that brought them together in the first place. Working together, possibly with the assistance of a neutral third party facilitator (if needed) the parties should clearly define the conflict they are facing, identify potential solutions and their consequences (both intended and unintended), and see if there is a solution or combination of solutions that is agreeable to all.

If agreement cannot be achieved, further efforts may be required. For example, if there is still uncertainty as to which solution is best, the parties could conduct further fact-finding and research into each potential solution, identify efforts in other communities facing similar issues, conduct a survey to ascertain the will of the people, or hire a consultant to develop a series of recommendations and course of action. The biggest key to achieving compromise is for all parties to set aside personal feelings and interests, and to strive for the interests of the common public good.

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