What is Compromising Negotiation? 3 Powerful Strategies + Examples

What exactly goes into mind when you hear about the compromising negotiations style? Is it about negotiating while trying to get a better deal between you and your opponent? At most times, people assume that the compromising style is all about making promises or concessions.

The concessions part is half-true, but we will get more into that later on.

Compromising Negotiation Style – What is it?

The compromising negotiation style is one of several negotiation styles that focuses on striking a balanced deal between you and your opponent. In simple terms, it is a negotiation tactic where no one has the upper hand in the end; both you and the other party simply agree to meet in the middle. No one wins and no one loses.

Sounds not too exciting, yes? Well, there will always be negotiations where sometimes, pushing for something too much or too less are both bad for you. And the same thing can also happen to your opponent. Therefore, it is also a good idea for both parties to simply gain an understanding right in between one another.

Thus, this negotiation style is quite opposite to two other negotiation styles; the collaboration negotiation style (where it’s a win-win situation for you and the other party) and the usual hardball distributive negotiation style (where you are out to win at all cost against the other party). 

And that’s why, dear negotiators and procurement managers, is the reason why it’s called the compromising negotiation style.

Below you’ll see the overview of where compromising negotiation fits within the negotiation syles framework. 

Compromising Negotiation Style – When to use it?

So when does a professional negotiator or procurement manager use the compromising negotiation style?

One best instance is when a negotiation can’t be held to the fullest because of certain issues that are out of control. 

For example, when the negotiator for the other party cannot meet with you because of an emergency on his side or if the negotiator is present but the deciding factor or person on their end is not available, then a compromise will have to be agreed upon by both parties.

Other instances where the compromising negotiation style is effective to use are the following:

  •  An urgent yet temporary decision is needed to settle a complex issue
  • When a decision is needed urgently because there is a lack of time.
  • When both parties cannot come to a decision despite a lengthy negotiation timetable.

Advantages – Compromising Negotiation Style

Since both parties are going to decide on the middle ground, then surely there are a lot of advantages to using the compromising negotiation style.

Some of the advantages of this negotiation tactic are as follows:

  • You save time by deciding on the middle ground quickly with the other party.
  • It may restore confidence among your peers by quickly identifying and deciding a middle ground with the other party.
  • Minimize what may seem a loss by quickly deciding on a compromise with the other party.
  • By deciding on a compromise for now, you can retreat and gather more intel about the upcoming negotiation.
  • For critical negotiations, a compromise is a much better deal compared to a loss.
  • You can also establish a good starting relationship with a new business due to a compromise.


Disadvantages – Compromising Negotiation Style

Are there any disadvantages to the compromising negotiation style? 

It is weird to talk about disadvantages regarding this negotiation style because there is already a compromise between the two parties, right?

A compromise is not always a good thing because remember when negotiating, your aim is always for the things that you want. So if you’re going for the middle ground, neither you nor your opponent wins. And if no one wins, then no one really gains anything. 

Other disadvantages when using the compromising negotiation style are as follows:

  • No one is fully satisfied with the outcome. Thus, the agreement could be short-lived and will usher in more negotiations in the future.
  • More negotiations mean more time and effort used.
  • Short-lived agreements over a complex issue can be frustrating and exhausting for you and the other party.
  • Just because a compromise is reached doesn’t mean that you or the other party is happy about it. It could strain your relationship with the other party in the future.
  • You quickly gain the middle ground during a negotiation could be taken as a sign of weakness or laziness.
  • Quickly conceding a negotiation to the middle ground could damage your reputation as a skilled negotiator or procurement manager.
Compromising Negotiation Example
Editor's note:

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Compromising Negotiation Style Examples

  • Treaty of Tordesillos (1494)

  • Portugal and Spain negotiate terms on exploration.

In 1494, the world was divided into two by two European countries. Well technically, it was the Papacy that divided newly discovered lands outside of Europe. It was intended so that Spain and Portugal, two of the most important Catholic countries at that time, would not fight each other for territory.

The treaty divided the world along a line of latitude through what is now eastern Brazil. The results of the treaty were that Spain explored and colonized most of the Americas while Portugal explored to the east and discovered land from Europe to India.

While Portugal struck rich because of its rich trading route from Europe to Asia, Holland and England eventually outplaced them.

Also, given that it is a tiny country on its own, it was unable to colonize land while Spain became a major colonial power next to England, France, and the Netherlands.

  • The Polish Round Table Agreement

  • The Polish government negotiates with the leaders of trade unions and opposition groups.

In 1989, the Polish government, headed by Minister of Internal Affairs Czeslaw Kiszczak, decided to not pursue martial law; a move that the state constantly uses to control dissent among its citizens.

Instead, the government opted to start negotiating with trade union leader Lech Walesa and other opposition groups that were on factory strike since the early 1980s. 

This moment officially started the Round Table talks on February 6, 1989. Both parties agreed on the legalization of trade unions, the introduction of the office of the President, and the formation of a Senate. 

The talks ended on April 4, 1989, and with it marked the birth of a new and democratic Poland.

Want to check out more negotiation case studies? We actually created an overview with 13 inspiring real-life negotiation examples.

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Compromising Negotiation Style Case Lesson

  • Arthur Hahn from Germany is a procurement manager for a non-profit organization that plants trees.
  • He asks a local store for help in procuring 200 shovels for an upcoming tree-planting activity.

Arthur contacts the store for help with purchasing 200 shovels for the members of his non-profit organization for a tree planting activity. Because it is non-profit, the organization is entirely dependent on donations from its members and does not have very deep pockets, so to say.

The owner of the store checks his inventory and tells Arthur the exact price for the 200 shovels. Arthur is crestfallen when he realizes that his organization does not have enough money for the purchase, but he also knows that the trees needs to be planted. The owner is apologetic and suggests to Arthur to ask for more donations to help in getting more money. 

However, an idea sparks in Arthur’s mind. Instead of buying shovels, Arthur asks the owner if he is able to give a small discount for customers who are going to join the tree planting activity and want to buy a shovel themself. The owner agrees to the idea and provides all customers that are planning on planting trees, a 40% discount. 

While it does not solve Arthur’s initial task of getting 200 shovels for his non-profit organization, this final outcome is even better for as well Arthur ánd the store owner: when the final day of planting is there, all 200 persons joining the tree-planting activity have been bringing in their own shovels. 

Compromising Negotiation Strategies to apply yourself

Strategy 1 – be quick and decisive

When using the compromising negotiation style, you need to be quick in determining what the middle ground is. When you’ve recognized what it is, wait until there is no longer an option of negotiating further.

If the outcome of the negotiation is going to be a lose-lose situation, you need to be decisive in putting the middle ground right in front of you and your opponent. Place your card on the table and be quick in delivering it as well.


Louise is having a hard time trying to win an argument with her co-workers. The company wants to have a get-together and her proposal is an out-of-town beach party. However, her co-workers are budget conscious and would prefer to do some local activities instead.

While running her hand on a local tourism app, she sees a local beach that is just a few meters away from the office.

Louise: “Okay, I just saw a local beach in town and it’s not too far away from our office. Since everyone wants to save money, I think this is the best place for us to hold our get-together party. Does anyone have other ideas?”

Strategy 2 – When decided on the middle ground, reaffirm it via voice and paper again for everyone to agree on.

Once you and the other party have agreed on the compromise, always make sure to reaffirm it again both on voice and on paper so that everyone present during the negotiation is aware of what transpired and what both parties have agreed upon.

This way, both parties understand what was agreed upon and that later negotiations can be held again without wasting anyone’s time.

For any documentation, make sure to send everyone a copy of it.


Tony and his associates decided on a compromise of selling their product for half the price at twice the agreed-upon number by the opposing party.

Tony: “Again, let me reaffirm that my associates and I agree on selling our products for half the price but we will sell at twice the agreed amount. The details can also be seen on paper here, which I will be sending to each one of you after the meeting.”

Strategy 3 – Always decide on the next negotiation after building the compromise.

Because of the nature of how compromise is almost in any case needed to end negotiations and close deals, always assume that the end is only temporary and that neither party is ever fully satisfied with the outcome. Thus, always decide on when the next negotiation will be after building the compromise itself.

This also holds true if one of the members of the negotiating table is not present at the moment.

Even if the other party makes no mention of another upcoming negotiation, it is always a good practice to be ready for anything. This will also give the other party an idea as to when to expect another call from you if you are not fully satisfied with the compromise.


  • What is compromising negotiation?
  • It is a negotiation tactic where each party plays at a compromise. This means a balanced deal between you and the other party

  • When to use compromising negotiation?
  • A compromise is used when there’s too little time during the negotiations. It is also used when both parties cannot decide on an outcome after hours of negotiations.

  • Why would you use a compromising negotiation style?
  • A compromise can be agreed upon by both parties to stall for time. This means either party can come back for another round of negotiations.

Learn How to Take Advantage of a Compromise

Only a skilled procurement manager or negotiator can appreciate the power of the compromising negotiation style. Use it to discover the other party’s weaknesses and be ready for your next negotiation!

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