Compromise vs. Negotiate

Use the word “negotiate” with women and you will see a lot of discomfort surface up.  Women haven’t yet learned the art of negotiation.  The opposite holds true more often with “compromise” as women are subtly encouraged to compromise rather than negotiate.  There is a big difference between the two.

If you review the definitions of compromise and negotiate, you can perceive similarities between the two, yet they are different in their application.

Compromise – to adjust or settle by mutual concessions; to come to agreement by mutual concession; to find or follow a way between extremes.

Negotiate – to confer with another to arrive at the settlement of some matter; to deal with (some matter or affair that requires ability for its successful handling); to successfully travel along or over.

A vast difference in these two words comes when applied in women’s lives. Most women gravitate towards compromise.  Yet our version of compromise is more often plagued with giving up a part of ourselves in order to make peace; whereas, negotiation is getting something we want.  Think about the different orientation of these two words.

A thought…
If you feel more comfortable with the word “compromise” and have the same results as negotiate, then you are acting from a place of win/win.   When you hear yourself saying, “I’m the one who has to compromise all the time,” then it may benefit you to think of ways where both parties can win.   We don’t negotiate every aspect of our lives, though we need to feel that there is a balance.   Use compromise if you feel there is balance in your interactions with others.  If not, learn to negotiate.

Where Are You?
For starters, imagine a scale from 1-10 and write the words compromise and negotiate on separate lines. What would be your number next to each?  If you score high on negotiate, you believe that life is based on win/win and not a win/lose result.  If you score high on compromise, your heart holds unmet needs and dissatisfaction.

In some areas of our lives we negotiate easily and in others we choose to compromise.  List all the areas of your life and mark next to them your choice of action against each one.  If you are strong in negotiating in one area, use your beliefs there in order to build your negotiation skills in the other.

Most women don’t believe that negotiation is a useful skill in relationships.  If we believe that negotiation is a foundation of a relationship, then we would create win/win relationships where both people could achieve their goals and be happy with each other.  Most of the time our emotions dictate our interactions and we “compromise” out of fear.

Numerous studies show that men and women handle everyday situations differently.  Men learn early to go after what they want and so understand the mechanics of negotiation … unless, of course they don’t have to because they get what they want right away.

There are US studies that clearly show that women, completing college with similar degrees as men, receive on average of $4,000 less a year in salary. (“Women Don’t Ask” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever)  You can never recoup that money.  Women just don’t ask for what they want and deserve.  We straddle a man’s world in business but we bring our society training with us. 

Women believe that if a manager appreciates them, she will give them a good raise.  More often than not, women miss higher raises because they don’t come prepared to the meeting with examples of their contributions and they don’t have the expectation that there is value there to use in negotiation.

Given that women are working, handling the home front as well as managing the finances, it’s imperative that we learn to negotiate for what we want.  It’s a skill, like any other skill, that can increase our well-being.  We can’t get scared off because of our fears of others’ reactions.  We need to own what we want and let others own their reactions.

How to Handle Others’ Reactions
Most of the time it’s our beliefs that limit us and not really the reactions of others.  Other people take our lead.  If you find yourself in a situation where another person’s reactions intimidate you, learn how to deal with this situation.  Learn to negotiate your rights along with the other person.  There is so much information out there on the “art of negotiation” that we have no excuse for not taking responsibility of our lives.  We can use what we learn to better our lives.

Women’s Group Topic
This is a great topic for a women’s group.  Women will have varied responses, interpretations, beliefs, fears, apprehensions and also skills around “negotiate.”  It will be a lively discussion.

Let us know how you respond to the word “negotiate.”  This powerful subject impacts the lives of women worldwide.  Share your thoughts and let’s help each other increase our ability to learn to negotiate for what we want in life.  Give us examples of areas in which you learned to negotiate and what you did to make a change in your life.

Karen & Pat
“maximize the value of women in your lives”

Other Books on Women and Negotiation

Leave a Reply