At some time you thought it, said it, or heard it. “Be happy with your decision.” There are a few variations. “I’m okay with that.” “As long as you’re happy with your choice.” “I’m good with how it worked out.” All of them are followed with “that’s what’s important.” But no. No, it’s not. They may sound like positive statements. Certainly being happy and comfortable are positive qualities. But in context, these statements imply it could have been better, that the result was a product of compromise.
You are too good to compromise.
Oh now wait a minute, you may be thinking. That sounds a little presumptuous, a touch of the “my way or the highway” thinking. That’s not what we mean at all. We are not encouraging obstinate behavior or not working with others. But there is a better way than compromise. That better way is collaboration.
In compromise each party gives up something. It’s the car dealer who wants $30,000, the car buyer who wants to spend $20,000, so they meet in the middle at $25,000 and everybody is happy, right? Wrong! Surely the dealer cannot be happy having just lost $5,000. The buyer can’t be thrilled about spending $5,000 more than intended. Why would either be happy with that outcome? If they are, then both parties were lying about their true expectations and had intended on settling at $25,000 from the start. Compromises at home work the same way. Bedtimes, chores, homework times, leisure activities, holiday dinners are all subjects of negotiation. We’ve become accustomed to giving up and taking less in the guise of making everybody happy when in reality we are making everybody accept less than what they feel they deserve.
Collaboration is an act of cooperation and partnership, people working together toward a common goal. When people collaborate, the expected result is not only already known but also acknowledged. Then the parties can work together to achieve that goal. When everybody knows how much you are willing to spend, how often the trash needs to be emptied, or where Thanksgiving dinner will be, then it is merely a matter of insuring the funds are available, the schedule is posted, or the other holidays accounted for.
The idea of entering a partnership already acknowledging the desired outcome may be foreign to many people. Negotiations are too often started with each party saying to themselves, “I’ll settle for this so I’ll ask for that because if I ask for that I know I’ll get at least this.” In a collaborative agreement when the outcome is already known and acknowledged, negotiations can concentrate on how much everyone can contribute to achieve that outcome. From the very beginning, all parties are working positively toward a common goal.
It isn’t just more honest to state your expectations from the beginning, it is also more considerate of the people working to achieve those results. You create more rewarding relationships acknowledging the talents and contributions of everybody who is part of the plan. Don’t plan to settle with the result. Plan on a result that makes everybody truly happy.