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Conflict Management Skills - Notes on Compromise

When to Compromise and when not to Compromise

During a course in Manchester, England, Sam x, a perplexed middle manager of seven years experience asked me:

"I am wrestling with a question. Can you help me with it?
Should I always "compromise" and find the middle ground?
I feel like I should, but I don't always want to.

What do you think?

I said "What do you mean by the term "compromise", Sam?

There are two distinct meanings to the idea of compromise.

One is good and the other is bad.

The good connotation

The good connotation implies that a reasonable person should expect to compromise: to find the middle ground between two opposing positions.
You should find the so called "WIN-WIN" solution.
If you looked up compromise in the dictionary you would find this:


  1. a: settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions
    b: something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things

So compromise is seems good.

But should you always compromise?

No. Because there is another connotation.

A bad connotation.

Also in the dictionary you will find


2. a: concession to something derogatory or prejudicial

What happens if you compromise on quality?

You would lose quality

What happens if you compromise on your principles?

You would lose your integrity

What happens if you compromise on honesty?

You might lose everything!

" So, should you compromise?" The answer is "NO, not always."

You should compromise and give concessions within the context of "un-breakable principles".

For example:
Within the principle of fair trade: you might compromise between the "asking price" and the "offer price", in order to reach an agreement for the sale.
Within the principle of harmonious relationships, I might meet you half way between our two venues for a business meeting
Within the principle of give and take: you might permit the colleague to go home early because she worked over late last week.

NEVER compromise on your principles

If the person says

"It is okay to steal stationary, because the company can afford it."
You say "NO" - Because there is no compromise with dishonesty.

If the person verbally abuses another on racial grounds, you say "NO"- There can be no compromise with racialism.
The MP cheats on his expenses account; He says "I did nothing wrong!"
You say "NO"-There is no compromise with dishonesty.

There are some things upon which you should not compromise

Those things are: Your fundamental principles.
Once you have established your fundamental principles of, for example:

  1. Fair trade
  2. Honesty
  3. Respect for all racial groups

Then your relationships should be based on compromising to meet the common ground.

For example

The right price for the purchase.
The new start time for the course.
The amount you bring and the amount I bring.

Do not compromise your principles

Only compromise within the boundaries of your principles

Name four principles upon which there is no compromise:

  1. Honest relating to property and money

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