Posted tagged ‘Compromise’

Fishing and the art of compromise

June 12, 2018

My husband loves fishing (and poke), and he really looks forward to sharing his love of fishing with our now 11-year old son. They leave early in the morning, before sunrise, and return in the early evening. I am happy that they can spend time together – and I can have a relaxing day.

My son doesn’t love fishing. During spring break, when my son was facing another fishing trip, he came to me and asked me to intercede.

Instead of being a mediator, I thought this was a good opportunity for my son to practice his negotiation skills.

“Suggest a compromise,” I advised him.

I helped him come up with a series of compromises to convince my husband to put off a fishing trip (my husband was going fishing, with or without him). Then I gave him a few tips, like “speak calmly” and “don’t whine,” and I sent him to negotiate.

Here are the compromises my son proposed:

First, he offered to go fishing on another day without complaining. I wasn’t encouraging my son to procrastinate, because this solution would benefit both of them. My son would stay at home today, and my husband would not have to deal with a sullen fishing buddy. Offer: declined.

Then, he offered to limit his “screen time” on the iPad and not watch YouTube all day. I know that we shouldn’t have to bribe our son to turn off the computer and TV, but this reinforced the idea that limiting screen time is important to us. Offer: declined.

Finally, he offered to go fishing on another day without complaining, limit his “screen time” and YouTube, and help unload any fish that my husband catches without complaining. This was a big concession, because my son doesn’t enjoy carrying fish from cooler to fish bag. Offer: accepted.

I think the compromise worked out well – my son stayed home, he practiced his negotiation skills, and my husband will appreciate an uncomplaining fishing buddy the next time.

What kinds of “deals” did you make with your parents? Do you negotiate with your children – and what kinds of compromises worked best?


“The Overton Window” by Glenn Beck

December 4, 2010

The Overton Window is a tactic to manipulate social opinion by reframing the issue: “put a false extreme at both ends to make the choices in the middle look more moderate by comparison” (page 146).

We use this tactic without even thinking about it at car dealerships, during online auctions, and for business contracts, but we call it negotiation or compromise. Here’s a harmless everyday example: if my son wants to go to sleep at 10 pm, and I am willing to let him stay up until 9 pm, I can suggest a 8 pm bedtime. Suddenly, 9 pm looks pretty good. Or, used against me, but still relatively harmless: if my spouse wants to buy a $1,000 TV, but I think $700 is more reasonable, they might suggest a $1,500 TV. Suddenly, $1,000 is a compromise.

But what happens when the choices are more serious and one side has more power than the other?

In “The Overton Window” (2010), a political thriller by Glenn Beck, Noah Gardner, son of ruthless public relations visionary Arthur Gardner, meets activist Molly Ross and falls in love. His heart leads him to a Founders Keepers rally, a secret agenda to consolidate wealth and power among the elite. Meanwhile in Nevada, undercover FBI agent Stuart Kearns and blogger activist Danny Bailey set up a sting operation to catch homegrown terrorists – but get caught up in a sting themselves.

The plot is a little awkward and the characters are flat – we don’t really know what motivates them. Noah is an odd protagonist – educated and intelligent, but passive, detached, and without convictions. We are sometimes like Noah, indifferent to manipulation, nonjudgmental where we should take a moral stand.

The central conflict in the book is whether the people or whether a select group are best capable of deciding our future. “Our founding documents established this new form of government to protect us from the sickness that has destroyed freedom since the dawn of civilization: the inevitable rise of tyranny from the greed and gluttony of a ruling class” (page 62), argues constitutionalist Beverly Ross. “The American experiment has failed, and now it’s time for the next one to begin. One world, one government – not of the people this time, but of the right people, the competent, the wise, and the strong” (page 211), argues power-broker Arthur Gardner.

The novel is about the defining moments in your life; how our ideas of what is “normal” can be manipulated; the compromises we make to our freedoms – for better security, for better government, for economic stability; and social change as evolution vs. revolution – not by changing opinions, but by changing the truth.

 “The Overton Window” is thought-provoking and grim; don’t dismiss it because it is a conspiracy theory. Instead, think about the choices that government offers us: for example, the choices we were given in airports used to be x-rays vs. full-body scans; it has become full-body scans vs. intrusive pat-downs.

Are there any ‘false extremes’ in our lives? How can we present our own choices back to our government – and marketing executives?