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25 Quotations About Compromise and Negotiation to Inspire Your Meettings


Tim Truzy is a rehabilitation counselor, educator, and former dispatcher from North Carolina.

Seal your deals with a friendly gesture.

Seal your deals with a friendly gesture.

Explaining Compromise

Compromise and negotiation is fundamental to human civilization. Both are important with differences. A compromise can best be defined as a settlement of a conflict terminating with each party making concessions. Compromises can be unfulfilling if a person or group has sacrificed too much. For this reason, a situation may emerge in which everyone feels a complete failure has occurred. Communications may become muted. Unbalanced compromises may lead to hostility and resentment, igniting further disputes.

defining Negotiations

By contrast, negotiation is a discussion involving a deliberate process. The goal of negotiation is to arrive at a settlement amiable to all parties. The benefits are mutual. Everyone retains some measure of power. Vineet Raj Kapoor, an influential author, suggests, “Sensitivity and resolve are opposites. You need good negotiation skills to retain both.”

Indeed, I’ve led negotiating teams and helped achieve productive compromises as a counselor over the decades. I’ve compiled a number of quotes I would call upon for inspiration during those meetings in this article. Also included is a sound strategy for obtaining a win-win scenario in any negotiation.

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve of the U.S. from 1987 to 2006.

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve of the U.S. from 1987 to 2006.

Quotes From Writers and Insightful Thinkers

  • “Any negotiation has a limit. Otherwise, war is irrelevant.” —Toba Beta
  • “We're fascinated by the words—but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” —Ram Dass
  • “He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of a diplomat.” —Robert Estabrook
  • “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” —Sir David Frost
  • “Unless you are willing to compromise, society cannot live together.” —Alan Greenspan
  • “When you can't convince them with intellect, persuade them with sentiment.” —Amit Kalantri
  • “When the final result is expected to be a compromise, it is often prudent to start from an extreme position.” —John Maynard Keynes
  • “We’re all somebody’s prospect; we’re all somebody’s customer.” —Chris Murray
  • “Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.” —Robert Louis Stevenson
Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), leader of a nonviolent movement in India

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), leader of a nonviolent movement in India

Quotes From Yesterday and Today

  • “In dealing with cunning people, we must ever consider their needs to interpret their speeches.” —Sir Frances Bacon
  • “In the end, the best victory is the one that looks like a defeat.” —Neel Burton
  • “All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” —Mahatma Gandhi
  • “We must be terrible negotiators to settle for reasonable dreams and unreasonable regrets.” —Adeel Ahmed Khan
  • “People make their decisions based on what the facts mean to them, not on the facts themselves” —Roy J. Lewicki
  • “Expression is saying what you really feel. Impression is saying what others want to hear.” —Krishna Saagar Rao
  • “Place a higher priority on discovering what a win looks like for the other person.” —Harvey Robbins
Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), the 16th president of the United States

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), the 16th president of the United States

Quotes from Politicians and Business Professionals

  • “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.” —Henry Boyle
  • “If you come to a negotiation table saying you have the final truth, that you know nothing but the truth and that is final, you will get nothing.” —Harri Holkeri
  • “To be on the same page, we need to be in the same book.” —Rahul Guhathakurta
  • “A lean compromise is better than a fat lawsuit.” —George Herbert
  • “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” —John F. Kennedy
  • “Basic rule of negotiation is to know what you want, what you need to walk away with in order to be whole.” —Phil Knight
  • “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” —Abraham Lincoln
  • “That is why everyone in politics, and we do it, must make sure that they do not depend on one single-interest group. A good compromise is one where everybody makes a contribution.” —Angela Merkel
  • “A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.'” —Barack Obama
Barack Obama (Born: 1961), the 44th President of the United States

Barack Obama (Born: 1961), the 44th President of the United States

Another Quote from a Historic British Leader

Coincidentally, , staying aware of your guiding principles is essential when negotiating. In fact, a former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher (1925–2013), once stated, “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing." In addition, equating principles to procedures and policies is a mistake often made in negotiations. In essence, positions on subjects can alter without surrendering values.

In order to obtain resolutions everyone accepts, I've indicated three essential steps to use in bargaining. These are practices I applied in all meetings where an agreement was necessary. Skills applying these rules develop gradually, but the quotes above will help with guidelines. Of course, may your deals prove productive.

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013), Former British Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013), Former British Prime Minister.

1. Find a suitable location.

Location matters in discussions. Choose a setting which is conducive to good feelings. For instance, a restaurant can be appropriate. Also, discover what food may be pleasurable to the other party. Having refreshments during the meeting can encourage smoother talks.

On the other hand, hunger and thirst can destroy a discussion. Starved individuals can be grumpy and unwilling to examine possibilities. As a famous British actor, Stephen Graham, notes: "You can't negotiate with a zombie. They only have one impulse - That's to eat us for our brains."

2. Recognize the importance of empathy in obtaining an agreement.

Imagine the other party’s position. Don’t opt for quick solutions at the expense of listening and comprehending the opposite side of the dispute. Allow the opposition time to lay-out sincere objections in resolving the issue. Silence is a tool which encourages reflection and creativity during talks. Haste to speak contributes to flaws and unsustainable agreements. However, establishing objective criteria with agreed upon goals guarantees success in your settlement.

3. Consider the potential outcomes.

Think about options for resolving the dispute from your perspective before the meeting. Contemplate what the other party wants as a solution as well. This strategy will demonstrate a willingness to see the differences in outlook on the problem when the discussion begins. Furthermore, understand the results of the agreement may be mixed. Yet, have a method for monitoring compliance to the deal.

Nevertheless, prepare to discuss alternatives if the original bargain is change. Decide how the resolution will be noted. Will the settlement exists as a written contract or in another format? End the discussion with a positive gesture, such as a handshake. As the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), explained: "I've learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for."


  • Kennedy, J. F., & Sorensen, T. C. (1991). "Let the word go forth": The speeches, statements, and writings of John F. Kennedy. New York, NY: Dell Pub.
  • Lincoln, A., & Stern, P. V. (1961). The writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Crown.
  • Thatcher, M. (1998). The collected speeches of Margaret Thatcher. Norwalk, CT: Easton Press.

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