The Art of compromise - Christa Dowling

Point of View
3 min readFeb 11, 2020

The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency
Theodore Roosevelt (26th American President 1858–1919)

All of us must make compromises in life, in our personal and business life, whether we like it or not. It is a learning curve in listening and evaluating another thought, another opinion. We are formed by experiences, by our family, by education, by learning from others, plus our own ability to change our thinking. It sounds like a struggle, often is, but a compromise is a valuable asset to achieve in life. It is the boldness of one’s conviction one taps into…sometimes practical, sometimes essential. The goal is to find a solution to a problem. Delaying a solution often finds a deeper dilemma in the end. All decisions in life have consequences and it takes courage and persistence to stand up to one’s believes. It also takes stability in one’s beliefs and embraces meaning of one’s convictions. It is not about opinions but the value of beliefs. Deliberate decisions with yourself and others, whom you trust…think about suggestions and ideas …then offer them to the other side as a solution.

In her insightful book, “Not for the Faint of Heart,” lessons in courage, power and persistence Ambassador Wendy Sherman writes about her life’s experiences, starting how she grew up, how her father has influenced her decision in entering the profession of public affairs, then continued in the service to the American Nation. She eloquently writes how she shared her experiences in different governments. Her distinguished career in diplomatic positions for Republican and Democrat administrations has provided her with great insights in the workings of compromise; whether it was in the negotiations with North Korea, the Cuban situation or the conferences about the Iran Deal. In President Obama’s words: “Change is hard in our own lives and in the lives of nations and change is even harder when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders.”

Wendy Sherman writes:” We don’t always get to pick the chapters in our lives that will test us, and often the most courage is required in jumping into a situation with no expectation of changing it, much less adequate preparation. The most effective route, however and the hardest is to negotiate to use diplomacy. It comes at a cost. Making a courageous decision the right thing, always does.”

The bigger picture of life is as we are learning in this story, the clarity of our own possibilities in commitments of common and enduring values. The erosion of debate and compromise in various situations or crisis show a dysfunction in leadership and in dialogue. It matters not whether in a family or a nation, it leaves the parties vulnerable…we cannot fathom how vulnerable Yet with courage and bravery to see and understand complex situations in our complicated world gives us also the hope that things will work out in the end through clear and constant alertness. There are limits to what can be accomplished by commonality. Personal connections don’t always overcome substantive differences or sometimes unshakable positions. Yet as illuminating and personal as this book is, it also shows the essential lessons in skills, in courage and in commitments and then in compromise.

Diplomacy is the art telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions. Sir Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister, 1874–1965)

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Point of View

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