Is Compromise Worth it to Resolve a Conflict? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Prolonged conflicts can be time consuming, emotionally draining, distracting and disruptive to productivity and generally unpleasant.  Mediation can be an extremely effective way to end a conflict.  The goal of mediation is to find a resolution that is acceptable to both parties.  Essentially it is to see if there is an agreement that both parties are willing to voluntarily enter into to bring an end to dispute.

Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer. Robert Louis Stevenson

Putting yourself in the right frame of mind entering in to a mediation, can make a big difference in whether it will be successful or not. Successful conflict resolution requires the willingness to consider compromise.  It is probable that each party will not get everything they want in an agreement, but with reasonable compromise, each party may be able to leave with an agreement that resolves the dispute and is acceptable to them.

I recommend taking a personal assessment before entering in to a mediation. Ask yourself these 4 questions to decide if compromise might be worth considering to achieve an acceptable conflict resolution:

  1. What issue is really at stake here? It’s important to have clarity here.  Often disputes get muddled by peripheral issues.  Sometimes the bigger issue gets lost behind smaller, less important one.
  2. How important is this issue to me? This is where you ask yourself if it’s a hill you are willing to die on; or not.  If this conflict costs you a relationship, is it worth that?  On a scale of 1 to 10, knowing how it important it is for you, will help guide your making decisions about possible compromise options.
  3. What would I be willing to do to resolve this conflict? Consider carefully some of the contributions you might be willing to consider to resolve the conflict.  How would you like to contribute to the solution?
  4. What would I be willing to give up to resolve this conflict? It’s a fact of life that we don’t always get everything we want.  It’s probable in mediation that you won’t get everything you would like, so ask yourself, what would you be willing to give up to have the conflict over?

If you are considering mediation as a way to resolve dispute, enter the process with a willingness to compromise; at least a little bit.  Often, it is through compromise that you are able to obtain what you really want: an end to the dispute.

Esther DeWitt, M.S., CAMS, is an organizational psychology practitioner specializing in conflict, emotional management and leadership issues.  She is a Credentialed Mediator and Certified Anger Management Specialist.  As president of Conflict Navigation, her services include mediation, leadership and organizational consulting and training, anger management coaching, and curriculum and material development.

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