One of the most important skills to acquire in the event business is the art of compromise. The need to compromise is something we all face at one point in our lives, and in the event industry, it's particularly important. Feeling as if you've done a good job and arranged the best possible solutions for clients is paramount, but so are ongoing relationships with other vendors.
Ludwig Erhard, a German politician and the Chancellor of West Germany from 1963 through 1966, once noted that, "A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece." Here are a few suggestions to help you learn the art of compromising.
Listen to the other side completely. Perhaps there is an approach you weren't aware of, or a flaw in your plan that you didn't see. Recognize the concerns and points being made before listing yours. Show you're willing to listen and conduct this compromise discussion in a collaborative spirit and that you aren't there to attack or discredit the other side of the discussion. Be courteous and respectful, and you will be treated the same way.
Don't go into negotiations expecting to win. Unless you have specific data that proves that the other party's solution will not work, do not walk in assuming you'll have your way, There is a difference between confidence and arrogance, and the other party can immediately pick up which attitude you have. If you do have this data, simply present it without malice-don't rub it in. Remember, you're not there to attack. Conduct every conversation in a civil manner, and future conversations will go smoothly.
Don't get defensive. Take the emotion out of negotiations so you can stay open to possibilities. When presenting your position, honestly list the pros and cons of your solution. Think big picture.
Set goals and deadlines at the meeting. The last thing anyone wants is to have negotiations dragged out or delayed indefinitely. Set a timetable for issues to be resolved or "Plan B" goes into effect. It's reasonable to think that both parties would like to reach a solution before the deadline and not have to resort to Plan B.
Hopefully your future compromises will go smoothly with these tips. Remember it's not your way or the highway–there's more than one path to a destination!