My Turn: Collaboration vs. compromise - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

My Turn: Collaboration vs. compromise

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I've talked about the caustic political atmosphere in Washington before, but with the recent contentious election and critical fiscal issues needing to be addressed, I thought it might be time to revisit the issue.

There is no doubt the American people have grown tired of the fighting and the inability of our leaders to work together to solve our nation's problems.  They said that loud and clear with some of the recent polling. 

But it really bugs me when I hear one of our leaders proclaim what we are really asking for is compromise.  I don't think so. 

Maybe it's just me, but the word compromise has negative connotations.  To me it means having to give something up to get something.  It also means having two sides working against each other, trading back and forth.   And to a large extent that takes working together out of the equation.

What I'd like to see is collaboration, real collaboration - men and women sitting down and truly working together and looking for the best solutions to our problems. 

Now I'm not naive enough to think that won't involve a little compromise now and then, but if you go into the process thinking that compromise is the road to success, we won't get the best solutions.  We'll get more of the same.  So until our leaders start working collaboratively, we'll be on the same road to nowhere.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at           



Emailed comments from viewers:

I find it interesting that some people think by changing the name of a process, there is a solution to the process.  Your opinion piece of Nov 13, 2012 is a good example.  Changing the word compromise to the word collaboration is nothing but syntax. Collaboration works when a Broadway show is being created but is not pertinent to the political process.  You make it sound like the Republicans would write the music and the Democrats would write the words and all would be fine.  Since our founding fathers did not envision political parties, you are correct that it was thought congress would work together but that did not turn out to be the case.  And I am sure that you are aware that our great Constitution is full of compromises including the Bill of Rights.


As a professor who has taught negotiation at UNCW since 2004, your point is correct.

Compromise produces winners as well as losers. People don't like to lose even if it's only half of the matter to be resolved.

Collaboration produces winners on both sides. Of course, collaboration takes time and effort. Lazy people opt for compromise because it doesn't take as much time and effort. A compromise is always less satisfying than collaboration.

Thanks for making that point.


I am writing relative to your opinion piece that politicians should collaborate rather than compromise because compromise involves quid pro quo negotiations.

I fear that this is exactly the kind of thinking which is often aspoused by adherents of the "tea party"  and one that is largely responsible for the current congressional stalemate.

Simply stated it says " I am right and you are wrong so I should not have to give up anything in order for you to do what I want."  "You should recognize the wisdom of my views and the error of your ways and then work with me in a collaborative effort to roll out my views."

Unfortunately in the real world there is an opposition group that feels your point of view is dead wrong.

In almost all forms of enlightened human interactions where individual boundaries and interests intersect, both sides need to respect and honor the other human's point of view and their rights to hold that point of view. Aside from battle or war, the singular basis for normalizing these interactions is compromise or tit for tat. I will not mow my lawn later than I like if you will not play your TV as loudly as you like.

After compromise and agreement we then colaborate insofar as we join together to enact of follow our negotiated win-win fair compromise.  

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