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Are You a Negotiator or Compromiser? Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   
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Before you answer that question, ask yourself this question. Where do you as a person draw the line between negotiation and compromise and is that line necessary? It will be my contention that the line and subsequent decision to draw it is based on your acceptance of the societal predisposition to blur the line between healthy and unhealthy compromises.

Before we begin this analysis of our understanding of just what it means to negotiate or compromise, we will need a common definitation of just what compromising means. For the purpose of this discussion, I plan on defining "Compromising" as the art of making a concession in order to gain something desired. If that concession can be made without abandoning one's moral or ethical standards then the compromise seems benign and may be the cause of no lasting negative impact. However, when compromising requires the relaxation of a person's core values, then the effect on their character will likely beccome more long-lasting.  You see when we tolerate things we do not believe in, we eventually learn to accept them and when we start accepting these new principles we begin to base more and more of our critical or life impacting decisions on these morphing beliefs. This eventually results in the resetting of our moral and ethical compass.' We then start to accept these new practices and principles as our new reference core values, leading us toward more morally and spiritually bankrupt lives.

The story of Solomon illustrates this principle quite well.  You see law Enforcement Personnel take an oath and subscribe to the law enforcement code of ethics; Military Personnel also take an oath and agree to abide by the Uniform Code Of Military Justice. Likewise Solomon was charged and accepted the commission of his father King David. (1 Kings 2"2-9)  "As for me, I am going the way of all of the earth. Be strong and be courageous like a man, and keep your obligation to the Lord your God to walk in His ways and to keep His statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees. This is written in the law of Moses, so that you will have success in everything you do and wherever you turn, and so that the Lord will carry out His promise that He made to me: ‘If your sons are careful to walk faithfully before Me with their whole mind and heart, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.' "You also know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me and what he did to the two commanders of Israel's army, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He murdered them in a time of peace to avenge blood shed in war. He spilled that blood on his own waistband and on the sandals of his feet. Act according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray head descend to Sheol in peace. "Show loyalty to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite and let them be among those who eat at your table because they supported me when I fled from your brother Absalom. "Keep an eye on Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim who is with you. He uttered malicious curses against me the day I went to Mahanaim. But he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, and I swore to him by the Lord: ‘I will never kill you with the sword.' So don't let him go unpunished, for you are a wise man. You know how to deal with him to bring his gray head down to Sheol with blood."

And, like many of us, Solomon initially chose to increase his wisdom rather than his wealth. (1 Kings 3:7-9)  "Lord my God, You have now made Your servant king in my father David's place. Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership. Your servant is among Your people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" This was seen by God as a sound core values and eventually led to a successful reign (career).

During his reign, Solomon initially began to negotiate healthy compromises and make wise decisions regarding those he served. As with many of who are faced with difficult (Really I should use unpopular rather than difficult) choices Solomon eventually began to make some unwise compromises where especially where his personal decisions were concerned and which were in fact in direct conflict with the oath he took at the beginning of his reign as King. When he let these negotiated decisions regarding his wives slip quietly into his life, he set himself up for his eventual desensitation and ultimately turning away from the dedication he once had to obeying his charge to serve God. I am sure Solomon felt (at least in his own mind) these concessions he made for his wives and the safety of his people were not great concessions and would result in more good consequences than bad consequences.  These compromises and their tragic consequences are detailed in 1 Kings 11.

When we begin to feel we can excuse small or minor deviations from our commitments and vows, we are treading on dangerous ground. Ground frequently explored by leaders who claim the end always justifies the means. Don't be deceived bu this type of rationalization, sidestepping our obligations for the sake of convenience, personal gain, power, popularity or any other reason should be viewed as a character weakness rather than a leadership strength.

Leaders, who embrace or tolerate continuous small flaws, often exhibit additional debilitating leadership traits. Leaders like these will rationalize compromising on small things, while totally ignoring the fact that although these compromises will lower your integrity only slightly, they will in reality readjust your definition of integrity and ethical behavior.

If you add only 1/2 teaspoon of horse manure to your brownie recipe would you still feed them to your family? I know I wouldn't.

Yet many self-styled leaders I have known would start by tolerating small deviancies at first and when their eventual major exceptions to the accepted standards were publically uncovered, they acted stunned and strove to try and justify why sticking to their obligations or vows (the recipe for a successful career and life of integrity; not to mention relationships) would have made them "different" from their peers and thus reduced their respect or made them unpopular or even rejected by those peers. The target of their focus is apparent; it is... themselves... and not their followers, those they dedicated themselves to care for always.

The ultimate consequences of this style leadership, have far reaching impacts, since leadership in whatever style it is exemplified, is passed on to the next generation so are the positive or negative consequences of that leadership. Like Solomon's compromising, anyone's compromising can and usually does result in deep regret, sorrow, bondage to a sinful lifestyle and emotional and spiritual rifts in relationships.

I think it is fairly obvious that we live in a world and in a society that is ripe with opportunities for compromise. In law enforcement and in the armed forces, the two professions I have chosen as my career fields, those opportunities are magnified, or so it often seems. And because of that our moral, ethical and leadership failures are equally magnified. We are often held to higher standards than the general populace we "serve and protect" and while many people think this is unfair, I for one feel honored to have such high standards to help me reflect on the consequences of my decisions.

It seems that I can summarize this thesis with a couple of statements about Duty, Faith, Honor and Valor.

Negotiation in and of itself can be beneficial and honorable as long as only healthy compromise is considered. Healthy compromise does not require any adjustment, no matter how minor, to your core values. When unhealthy compromise of your morality and ethics are added to the mix, the results can become disastrous.

Your character is built on your integrity; don't give in to pressure, temptation or coercion.

Use your faith to strengthen your commitment to uphold truth and Justice.

Always look for a way to return our nation to its honorable foundations.

 Chaplain (Colonel) Ray Fairman

Winterville (GA) Police Department

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