How To Compromise With Your Boss


Compromise in the workplace can be difficult, especially when it comes to compromising with your superior. You certainly don’t want to step on any toes—yet, sometimes, you know what’s best for yourself. Whether you’re working as a virtual assistant or trying to enhance your productivity as an employee, there are a few things to keep in mind during the process of compromise.

So, first: what does compromise mean? The goal of a compromise is to satisfy everyone within the agreement. Compromise involves a back-and-forth until the two parties feel good about the solutions they have reached. Compromise can be especially tricky in situations of a power imbalance (with your boss, for example)…but not impossible. Read on for some compromising tips.

How to compromise: 

1. Make your case + listen

Of course, it’s important to make your voice heard, and be extremely clear about what you want. After you’ve made your point, it’s time to listen. For example: if your boss wants to push a deadline forward, you would be better off listening to them first than putting your foot down firmly from the outset. 

2. Ask open-ended questions

Asking questions will help you understand where the other party is coming from, and clarify their argument as well. In the case of the deadline, this step would ensure that your boss has thought about why they want your work completed earlier. Are they trying to quickly grow a startup or small business? How helpful is an earlier deadline for that process? Would it be better for more revisions? Is it absolutely necessary, or is it just a preference?

3. Determine negotiables + non-negotiables

You’ve had a chance to hear each other out. Now, it’s time to figure out what you absolutely need to come out of your discussion, and what you could stand to give up. Maybe you could manage to get one part of the assignment completed…but you need more time for the other parts so you don’t end up working overtime. 

4. Find common ground

At this point, you’ve determined what is necessary for you in the compromise. Because you’ve prioritized your needs, it should be easier to find what you have in common. In this case, it’s probable that both you and your boss want good-quality work. You just have to agree on how to get there. This leads into our next step… 

5. Come up with new ideas

Maybe your new ideas are a mix of the old, or maybe you agree that the old ideas won’t work at all. If you’re really stuck, try to come up with at least 10 alternative ideas. These ideas might not be easy to come up with, and some of them might be outlandish. One idea might be to omit the deadline, and another idea might be an even more harsh deadline. Extreme schools of thought are necessary to make progress sometimes. By the end of the process, there should be some ideas that allow you to find common ground. 

6. Compromise or negotiate a trade

You’ve tried your best to hear each other out and come up with new ideas. At this point, if there’s no agreement, it’s time to negotiate. If you can’t agree on a deadline, consider negotiating for more time on a future assignment. As a valued employee, your boss should know you can stand to be flexible, but also that you can (and will) stand up for yourself when necessary.

Walking through these steps for compromising can help you organize your thoughts and resolve conflict. If you’d like to work through a conflict with anyone in the workplace (not just your boss), you can download the compromise worksheets for help.

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