Mirror Mirror on the Wall…

I’ve been watching the debates and the bad actors in government.  I’ve concluded that I’m a master compromiser when compared to this crowd.  Then the mirror swings around and hits me on the forehead.  See the chart below.  Here’s Michael Brown’s 4-box on Compromise.   I have no idea what “TKI” and “MBTI” stand for.  Check out his full post on the theory behind it – I’ll let you hash that out with Michael and his high brow intellectual friends.  I just wanted (needed) to get to the bottom line – how do I score?  (Yes, it is always about the score.  Yes, it is.)  See the arrow pointing to my position.  (And no one was looking when I nudged the star over to the right with some elbow grease.  Hey, at least I’m not in the bottom right, right?.  Poets/Artists, save your breath.  I’m immune to the beatings on my lack of sensitivity on this topic.) 


Then coincidently (by now you know there are no coincidences on my ride), I trip into the answer…

Compromise starts with an understanding of the other person’s point of view. It is grounded in a respect of the other side of the table. So says John Baldoni in his post in the HBR Blog Network titled Compromising When Compromise Is Hard:

I see too many people who see compromise as a bad thing, an abandonment of principle…Strong willed people often become so consumed by the power of their ideas that it prevents them from examining and understanding another’s point of view. We discard their viewpoint before we even understand it, or we deny its validity before we’ve given it significant thought. When that occurs, any chance of compromise is lost. In reality, a willingness to compromise is a sign of great conviction: the conviction that the organization comes first.”

compromise - cartoonHe states that we need to “Start by understanding the other person or group’s point of view. Our ego often prevents us from seeing what others see — and, worse, prevents us from seeing the merits of their case.”

Baldoni suggests that “To better understand their point of view, lead with open-ended questions and statements, those designed to stimulate conversation:

  • Tell me about ____.
  • Why do you feel that way?
  • How can we do it better?
  • Help me understand the issue more clearly.”





  1. Alex Jones says:

    On your own make no compromises, with others compromise is needed.


  2. Now that’s wisdom…


  3. Fabulous..I’ve taken a test like this before – where I end up ins irrelevant. It is interesting thought to look at the debates with this kind of filter. And I hate to say that I really believe that there are some strident voices in government that are not interested in posing thoughtful questions to better understand another’s position. They are pushing their agenda. Full stop.


  4. BTW – Thomas Kilman Indicator (TKI) & Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
    I find it curious that as a society we promote and embrace teamwork in major areas of our lives (e.g. workplace, sports), yet find compromise to be difficult, if not a sign of weakness. Yet, great teamwork, and the success it often achieves, is typically a model of compromise!
    I don’t think the issue is purely the domain of our politicians, as I witness this level of intractability among friends, family and co-workers … do we nourish the politicians via our actions/support, or they us? … who is the ventriloquist and who is the mouthpiece? Is compromise so difficult because we seek power, or feel we have little control over other aspects of our lives … we can at least control what we think and feel?


  5. Many thanks for featuring my article, David. I’m glad it got you thinking!

    My only comment about Compromise is that whilst it is certainly better than No Deal, it can be an unsatisfactory outcome, leaving a slightly bad taste in the mouth. “Could have done better.” I try and encourage people to Collaborate by using creativity and taking a bit more risk (normally by being the first person to open up and reveal more information).

    I suspect you’re surrounded my Competers at work, and how others behave and expect you to behave can change your Conflict profile. I wonder whether you were so competitive in your early years at work?


    • Yes, Michael, I think your strategy of revealing more information and taking more risk does help the compromise process. As to the my competitive profile, that started the moment I emerged from the womb. 🙂


  6. How fun. Yep, I am a lower right side guy. I find it works for me as a entry point to understanding others and reaching the best solution (compromise or otherwise). DK you would never see it coming. 🙂

    Thanks for the link to Michael Brown’s article. Interesting stuff.

    Okay off to my poetry reading. – Michael


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