Few people enjoy being in the middle of a struggle, whether it’s our or others’ issues. And just as few may be inclined to compromise. Even the sound of the word is offensive to many. Negotiation, however, can be a skill of manipulation or a skill of love.
Consider today’s prompts, Scripture, and article.
- Read and discuss any of the following accounts of struggle (or potential struggle) between two parties, how each compromised or negotiated, what the process and result seemed to say about each party, and how God responded to each party later and why.
- Abram and Lot over the land in Genesis 13:9ff
- The herdsmen of Isaac and Abimelech over the wells in Genesis 26:6-22
- The women who claimed to the mother of the same baby in 1 Kings 3
- Rehoboam and Jeroboam over how Israel should be ruled in 1 Kings 12
- Peter and Paul’s argument over treatment of Gentile Christians in Galatians 2:11-13
- Divisions in the church over “super leaders” in 1 Corinthians 1
- Jesus facing false accusations and doing His Father’s will in Luke 22:22
Now consider this week’s article.
French Election: Protest Vote for ‘Nobody’ Was Highest in Half a Century
“Negotiation vs. Compromise” by Chaplain Jeff Dillard (9 May 2017)
“’Neither’ became the second-most popular choice in the runoff, said Marta Lorimer, a researcher at London School of Economics European Institute. ‘There are a huge number of people who don’t feel represented by either of the two candidates,’ she said. As centrist independent Macron celebrated his decisive victory over far-right populist Le Pen Sunday, his success was somewhat tinged by the millions of dissatisfied voters who could not bring themselves to lend him their vote.” (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/french-election-protest-vote-nobody-was-highest-half-century-n756261) Will Macron lead by compromise or negotiation? It’s more than a question of semantics.
As a counselor, I often work with relationships struggling through extremes. If one person takes a far right position on a matter, it’s almost guaranteed that the other person is on the far left. Generally, the answer is somewhere toward the center of the concern or at least the way they’re approaching it. And, of course, compromising to move from one’s position is not an option. Not initially, anyway.
Compromise implies a lose-lose. You give up something important to you, and I give up something important to me. Negotiation is a win-win. You get something important to you, and I get something important to me. It’s more than rephrasing, it’s refocusing the goal and process by a new perception of each other. Most people will follow a negotiator because they focus on both parties and get positive results. Few continue following a compromiser. They may only minimize damage to the non-personal surface-level concern: policy, time, money, etc. That’s rarely enough to set a positive direction and maintain an excited momentum in a marriage, a work team, or any other group.
You may not be mediating for other people, but you do need to negotiate well for your relationships.
A first step for any negotiation is to express our current negative concern as a positive goal. What do you want? As you begin listing possibilities to yourself, you’ll probably name several means to an end, not the goal itself. Keep asking yourself, “Then what would happen?” until you breathe a sigh of relief that “Yes, that’s what I really want.” Second, help the other person to do the same…gently.
It’s risky to identify heart-level desires. Our best cards are face-up, and others could make a play against us. But if we don’t work together, we’re likely to waste time or even work against each other.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Jeff Dillard is the author of all posts in this blog, the goal of which is your greater joy in Christ through leadership and counseling. Jeff and his wife, Lauren, have been married since 1995. By God’s grace, they have four wonderful children and two grandchildren. Jeff was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America and commissioned as an Army Chaplain in 1998. He has Master’s degrees in Divinity, History, and Counseling. Since 1998, he’s had the privilege of equipping and encouraging others’ faith and service to the Lord Jesus by leading congregations and counseling in multicultural settings across the United States. Seven of those years have been in Germany, Korea, and Iraq. For leisure, Jeff enjoys simple time with his family, exercise, playing guitar and trumpet, and trying foreign foods with friends.
Please note that the contents of tools4trenches do not necessarily reflect specific beliefs or practices of organizations in which Jeff works or worships.