Home > Ideas and Philosophy > Political Will: Assert to Achieve Win-Win vs. Compromise

Political Will: Assert to Achieve Win-Win vs. Compromise

Politics is the art of managing who gets what, when, where, and how; it’s the language and control of interests and values[1].

Everyday life is an exercise in politics.  One common aspect of daily political life is getting what we want.  That obviously doesn’t always happen due to competing interests with other people, most especially if it involves the appropriation of scarce resources – and this includes people’s time.  In the course of dealing with people, we end up developing compromises, though I would like to posit that it’s better to push for “win-win” arrangements as much as possible instead.

Compromise can be both good and bad.  Compromise is good when differing parties can agree to a common set of principles to achieve a particular goal, given that everybody has a different outlook on things.  However compromise can be bad for the same reason, because it reduces everyone’s aspirations to the least common denominator.  In other words, everyone is getting something but sometimes only in the most rudimentary of aspects as far as they’re concerned; nobody is getting everything they want, and this can lead to dissatisfaction for everyone.

Sometimes painful compromise might be the only option available, where the end result is the most basic of what we hope to get and nobody gets everything they want and are thus not completely happy.  It’s situations like these that feel like nobody really wins.  As much as possible this is to be avoided, but if this is the only way to move forward and get something done, then this needs to happen.  You can’t win everything all the time, so just aim to win where it really matters and hope to win the next fight.

As far as I’m concerned, “win-win” is the scenario where all parties get mostly (but admittedly still not all of) what they want.  It will obviously involve some level of compromise.  But the idea here would be, ideally, whatever needs to be removed as part of the compromise, is something that isn’t crucial to the success or happiness of the party concerned.  In other words, what’s not included is only a “nice to have,” that even without it, one would still be very happy with the outcome.

Personally, I define political will as doing what needs to be done and making things happen, if only because it just has to be done and it has to happen.  One must also exercise this in order to get what you want, most especially in the daily exercise of politics.

Have the political will to assert and achieve “win-win” outcomes rather than compromise outcomes.  It will take more effort and skill to make it happen, but the investment will be worth it to ensure everyone is happy because everyone gets as much of what they really want.


[1] The Politics Book, DK London, Great Britain 2013, p.12.

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