A Real World Compromise in Washington – No Really in Congress

A Real World Compromise in Washington – No Really in Congress

I read this article from the Daily Blog offered by the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation entitled,

     “Break a Competitive Cycle with Win-Win Negotiation Strategies

     A negotiation case study involving the US congress illustrates the importance of understanding, and controlling, the dynamics of the bargaining process”

I encourage you to read the article.    This article demonstrates that yes Congress is broken, but it also shows that in spite of partisanship, some compromise was applied and the result was the passing of a bill in the best interest of every day Americans.  It can happen.  The article points out that instead of Congress normally working for what is in the best interests of Americans, Congress generally works at being able to spin what is best for their own party.   I believe this is what Americans find extremely distasteful.  We want our government to govern – listen  -  and compromise.

This is widely recognized problem.   The Free Dictionary defines democracy as:

“1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.

2. A political or social unit that has such a government.

3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.

4. Majority rule.

5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.”


Looking at items 3 and 5 above.   The major source of power is not a political party.  It is the will of the common people based on our principles of equality and respect for every individual in our community.   We need to get back to basics.


Congress really needs to get back to carrying out the will of the people. We have a major dilemma in America on a host of topics including insurance.  Instead of blaming each other, wanting to kill Obama Care (the Affordable Care Act) that is now becoming the unaffordable act, we need to really look at what American citizens need and want.  We want affordable health care for everyone that considers, but is not overridden by the interests of the insurance providers, pharmaceutical firms, and existing bureaucratic structures.   We pay the most of any nation in the world for healthcare by more than twice, yet our country ranks 37th overall in terms of health care outcomes for our population.


My most recent book is entitled, Peaceful Resolutions: A 60-step illustrated guide to the art of collaboration.  Chapter two addresses the issue of de-escalation. Watching our presidential candidates, various political advertisements on television and the way in which the interests blame others I believe both parties need to read that chapter and really work on the process of de-escalation. 


Individuals from various parts of the country and from other nations from Europe to Argentina have suggested crowd sourcing this book to send it to every member of Congress and the President.  This is not something I can do.  If it happens it has to come from others.  My publisher has indicated he would be willing to do this if someone took the lead.  I am not suggesting that this book is the answer, but I think the commentary in the book could be a contributor.  We as Americans need to take back our Congress from those that believe party is more important than the will of the American people.


Relating this to our daily lives and interworking with others, make use of the ideas in this book.  We need to first center ourselves to de-escalate ourselves.  The book brings ideas from neuroscience, social work and hostage negotiators together on how to do this. Then we need to work with the other party to help them de-escalate too. Once we can begin to speak with one another (and it may take a third individual to even bring both individuals to even speak with one another) then we can begin the elements of communication, conversation, discussion, listening and finally move into the arena of negotiation working towards collaboration. 


It all begins with relationships.   We have to work on building positive relationships.  Negative commentary and demonizing the other party does nothing to promote understanding.  We have to let the pre-frontal cortex override he reptilian brain amygdala and not allow ourselves to become angry.  Consider developing a good working relationship first and make a real effort to initiate and build the relationship.  


Once a relationship has been established move into the arena of listening to the other party.  Really listen.  Paraphrase what the other party has said to demonstrate that you are truly listening and try to summarize what was said even better than the other person said it themselves. 


Once you have truly listened, initiate the process of educating the person on the facts from your perspective related to the issue and share your interest and emotion you feel around the issue. 


After these three steps of building a relationship, truly listening, and educating the other party, then it is time to begin the process of negotiating. 


Hopefully our politicians can learn from every day Americans and begin to carry out the will of the American people and promote what we all do every day.  That is we compromise with one another to get things done.


Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA is an expert in conflict resolution dedicated to making thought-leading entrepreneurs and executives more successful. Michael’s books, The Servant Manager: 203 tips from the best places to work in America and Peaceful Resolutions: A 60-step illustrated guide to conflict resolution are available at http://mikegreg.com/books.   Free resources are available online at www.mikegreg.com. Check out the blog.  Contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com or call (651) 633-5311. 

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]