I've been struggling to write this for several weeks. The struggle hasn't been about the content, it's been about the presentation. Our nation was founded on a series of compromises. You can go back to the Connecticut compromise, which gave us a bicameral legislature. Then there was the Missouri compromise, which set up admission of both free states and slave states to the union.
Then there were the politicians who were known for their ability to compromise. Henry Clay established himself as being The Great Compromiser. If you think about people or groups being in conflict with one another, it comes down to one simple statement. Conflict is a situation where one's needs or desires, are different from the other parties' needs or desires.
When we compromise, we're usually giving up something to get something. I describe it as "half a loaf is better than none." If I want deliver a 12 hour training class, you tell me. I only have four hours in which deliver it. So we negotiate, and reach a compromise which is, you extend the training time to eight hours, and I condense my 12 hours of content into an eight hour session. See, we each gave up something in order to reach an agreement.
For centuries, people in our country have been in conflict with one another. You had Southerners who were proslavery, and Northerners who were abolitionists. You've had management, who've taken harsh stances against organized labor. You have right wing politicians taking a stand against left-wing politicians. And pro-choice forces versus anti-abortion forces.
Not all that conflict resolves itself. Much of it continues today. But we miss opportunities to collaborate. Collaboration is different from compromise. While compromise may be the situation where half a loaf is better than none, collaboration is searching for win-win situations, where both parties are able to have their needs met.
Here's a concrete example of collaboration. I have 12 hours of training I need to deliver to your group. Your group must be able to service customers and they can't be taken away from their desks for 12 consecutive hours of training. We agree to have the training delivered over four day of three hours a session. we collaborated on a solution where both needs were met.
So the thing that's missing in our society when it comes to the "really big issues," is a lack of collaboration. Take a look at some issues that are close to your heart. Are there opportunities when it comes to that issue where it would be worth collaborating with someone who disagrees with you?
It probably sounds naïve to even suggest this. Look at the alternative. Were faced with situations in politics, in our daily life, where it's easier to take sides, then it is to find common ground. The adversarial relationships we engage in do nothing to engender trust. It's only through a mutual understanding of what both our needs are that were able to find common ground and establish some trust. The environment has become just too toxic even take these first steps towards understanding. For many in power, maintaining the status quo allows them to retain that power.
Let me give you a really tangible example of where collaboration could be really effective. The labor dispute between the NFL and its players is a situation where billionaire owners and millionaire players are quibbling over the distribution of $1 billion. Professional football's extremely popular sport in the United States. Tens of millions of fans follow it. Millions of fans pay tickets to watch it in stadia. So for the NFL and the players union, the win-win is not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. A federal mediator that is working with both parties and will help them recognize and understand the win-win nature of coming up with a new collective bargaining agreement. Both parties will have to agree to areas where there are win-win situations, and there may also be in need to compromise on areas that are not win-win situations.
People from both sides of the political spectrum have to recognize that there are areas where everyone has common ground, and they need to work together in those areas. When that happens, particularly in the halls of government, trust will start to be built, and then bipartisanship may be able to be achieved. But until this collaboration, don't expect much to change. What do you think about this?