September 13, 2012

Creative Role: The Compromiser

Collaborating, whether with clients or co-workers, means headbutting (especially within one’s own head). Opinions are shared and may even flare up. Compromises are made. But reaching compromises can be more about adapting to a different way of seeing than forcing consensus.

When singer-songwriter Laura Marling paired up with record producer Ethan Johns, she was nervous about working together. Would they get along with each other’s biases? Would there be collaborative fallout? But her hesitation didn't spark an uneasy partnership. Instead of a conflict of compromises, the opposite happened:
“This time with Ethan, I really wanted to step up and be a bit more involved. Ethan was a worthy partner. He wouldn’t let me get away without giving my opinion. I see that first song Darkness Descends. It was the one song that we couldn’t just find an actual arrangement for. He wanted to do this poppy, almost fall-to-the-floor kind of feel. And I’ve always been overly protective of anybody trying to make it shiny. This probably deals more with my insecurity. I really fought to have it sound like the rest of the album. It worked really well. We locked horns on it for a while. I didn’t quite get it the time, but I’m pleased with it.”
Making compromises doesn’t have to be about feeling steered and unhinged. Being compromising can mean a willingness to try an idea or unfamiliar approach—from someone or something else—and experience its potential for compatibility. In Marling’s case, compromises, given a chance to unfold, promote harmony and future collaborations. They also offer a bonus uptick in mutual respect.

Tap into your inner compromiser.

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This is the eighth piece of a series focused on the lively cast of characters whose roles make the play of Creativity. In case you missed the previous Creative Role, meet the Restorer.

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Typographic illustration, tailormade for this series, was done by Shawn Hazen. Read his Designer’s Quest(ionnaire).

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