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The Secret to Compromise: Learning to Read Others

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You’ve thought hard about an important issue dividing your commission, and you have a reasonable compromise. But when you announce it, nothing happens. The other commissioners listen politely, then return to bickering.

What happened?

You’ve just learned the first law of community leadership: To reason with people, you must understand — and deal with — what motivates them. Put another way, until you satisfy their instincts, you’re not likely to reach their intellect.

This is why the best civic leaders — those who consistently find creative solutions and win support for them — spend so much time studying others’ motivations. It’s the key to getting people to work together.

The same applies to planning commissions. The most respected commissioners are those who can create compromises others will agree to. And the chief skill of compromise is the ability to read your fellow commissioners. …

End of excerpt

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