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Compromising vs. Collaborating

Posted on July 29, 2009

Andrea Schneider (bio) explains that compromise is not always the best resolution for negotiations.


So compromising is a great approach to use to negotiation when you've been negotiating back and forth and you're close. You're very close, and it's time to get it done. So wherever you've been collaborating, you've come up with lots of creative ideas, or you've been competing and butting heads, but you're still pretty close. The split the difference or why don't you take two-thirds, one-third, or whatever you're doing at that point. You take this issue, I'll take that issue is just a nice approach for getting things done.

I don't like it as the starting approach because, again, you getting half and the other person getting half is not necessarily a great agreement. There were perhaps ten other issues you could've discussed if you fully discussed it, and that's why I think both the assertiveness and the cooperativeness of collaborating is a good approach when something's very important in terms of getting out everything, seeing how much you can expand the pie. And at the end of the day, you do need to divide that pie, and compromising, because it focuses on fairness and on process, can be a satisfying default at that point.

The time to engage in collaborating negotiations are really twofold. One, when it's something that's very important and you want to make sure that you have explored all of the interests that you have as well as the interests of the other side, where really creating that time, creating buy-in, being sure that there's going to be compliance down the road means that it's very useful to surface everything, to have those conversations and make sure that everybody's on the same page.

That also takes a lot of time and energy, so collaborating is not for the everyday negotiation. You need to save it for when you have the time and energy for something that's really important to you.

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Excerpted from interview with professor at the 2009 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Palo Alto, CA.


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