The Lost Art of Compromise


On April 9th, The U.S. marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War. While I’m not a historian, history (American military history, specifically) is a favorite subject of mine, so this week’s commemoration has me thinking.

In the wake of General Lee’s surrender to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, President Lincoln passed along orders to General Grant and the Union army to treat Confederate soldiers humanely. Rations were shared, none were arrested or tried for treason, and Southern officers were allowed to keep their sidearms, a sign of great respect among warring soldiers. President Lincoln welcomed the southern states back to the U.S., and the process of rebuilding America had begun.

Compromise has always been a part of the fabric of our nation’s history. The ability to “meet the other guy halfway” is part of what made us who we are as a nation, and lately, it seems that as a nation, we’re starting to lose the value in that art of compromise. We see it on social media, in mainstream media, and in our nation’s political discourse. The “other side” is demonized, ridiculed, demeaned and discounted at seemingly every turn.

At The Latimer Group, we believe communication is, in fact, a two-way street, not a contest in which “he who yells loudest wins.” We work with our clients not only on the speaking side of communication, but also the often-overlooked “other side.” The side of listening, of respecting the other side of the conversation… the side of compromise.

Increasingly in our culture, we find that the trend of our current national discourse impacts the way in which we communicate in business, and throughout our personal relationships. We’re staring to lose that innate American ability to compromise, listen, and respect the opposing point of view, even if we don’t agree. These are characteristics inherent in our nation’s history, and we’re hoping they’re characteristics that we remember how to get back as we move forward in the 21st century.

Have a great day.

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Photo by Jasperdo used under the following license.


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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.