I want to continue this short series of posts based around the theme of compromise by looking at a more modern developments.
In 2004 Charles Chen introduced the concept of positive compromise (Positive compromise: a new perspective for career psychology. Australian Journal of Career Development, 13(2) 2004). Compromise within career choice is generally considered a negative concept. Chen proposes that compromise will always be part of career choice in a complex and rapidly-changing world. Therefore, it makes sense to understand how to engage with compromise in constructive way.
You could envisage compromise as negotiating with yourself over competing values and needs. In any negotiation, you need to gain something of value for each thing you give away. Thus, compromise is not about making sacrifices — it is about making trades.
In addition, for the results to be sustainable, each party in a negotiation must feel that at least some of their needs have been addressed. If not, resentments are likely to surface later. Similarly, if you compromise too much, the part of you that loses out may come back later to haunt you.
Instead of seeing compromise as giving up an ideal career in favour of a second-rate one, you can see it as finding an optimised solution to a problem.
Chen suggests four activities to promote in careers interventions:
- Open positioning – a more open-minded, flexible, responsive approach.
- Vision development – a greater understanding and awareness of the different compromise options and implications
- Risk management – increasing awareness of and preparedness for risk taking
- Action implementation – knowing how to take the compromise forward and maximise the benefits.
- To what extent are you helping clients to prepare for and make constructive compromises in their careers?
- How much do you know about the principles of good negotiation and can you apply them to careers practice?
- Are you compromising the quality of your guidance by not directly addressing the issue of compromise?