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To compromise is to make a deal between different parties where each party gives up part of their demand. In arguments, compromise means finding agreement through communication, through a mutual acceptance of terms—often involving variations from an original goal or desires. Defining and finding the best possible compromise is an important problem in fields like game theory and the voting system.

Research indicates that suboptimal compromises are often the result of negotiators failing to realize when they have interests that are completely compatible with those of the other party, leading them to settle for suboptimal agreements. Mutually better outcomes can often be found by careful investigation of both parties' interests, especially if done early in negotiations.[1]

The compromise solution of a multicriteria decision making or multi-criteria decision analysis problem that is the closest to the ideal could be determined by the VIKOR method, which provides a maximum utility of the majority, and a minimum individual regret of the opponent.[clarification needed][2]


Chamberlain and Hitler leave the Bad Godesberg meeting, 1938
Chamberlain (left) and Hitler, 1938.

In international politics, compromises often discussed include infamous deals with dictators, such as Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler. Margalit calls these "rotten compromises."[3] In the United States and other democratic countries [clarification needed], many politicians of recent times permanently campaign to gain reelection. Thus, United States Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann and political scientist Dennis F. Thompson have observed that compromise is more difficult.[4] The problem of political compromise in general is an important subject in political ethics.

Politicians being willing to compromise can reduce partisanship and hostility. Politics is sometimes called the "art of compromise".[5] Polling by the American Survey Center indicates that Americans take a favorable view of political compromise.[6]

Human relationships[edit]

In human relationships, "compromise" can make no party happy because the parties involved feel that they either gave away too much or that they received too little.[7] Compromise may be referred to as capitulation, a "surrender" of objectives, principles, or material. Extremism is often considered as an antonym to compromise, which, depending on context, may be associated with concepts of balance and tolerance.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thompson, Leigh; Hastie, Reid (1990). "Social perception in negotiation". Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 47 (1): 98–123. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(90)90048-e.
  2. ^ Opricovic, Serafim (2009). "A Compromise Solution in Water Resources Planning". Water Resources Management. 23 (8): 1549–1561. Bibcode:2009WatRM..23.1549O. doi:10.1007/s11269-008-9340-y. S2CID 153799255.
  3. ^ Margalit, Avishai (2009). On Compromise and Rotten Compromises. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13317-1.
  4. ^ Gutmann, Amy; Thompson, Dennis Frank (2012). The Spirit of Compromise. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-15391-9.
  5. ^ "Finding the Middle Ground: The Art of Governing (Or "Compromise" is not a four-letter word)". The Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Retrieved 2022-07-14.
  6. ^ "Public views of political compromise and conflict and partisan misperceptions". The Survey Center on American Life. Retrieved 2022-07-14.
  7. ^ Product Management Hut (2008). "Methods of Dealing with Conflict — Part II". PM Hut. Retrieved 2010-01-11.