I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about the difference between these two words. Compromise, at least for me, is loaded with negative association: not achieving your potential, giving up on your ideals… settling. I’m not interested in compromising.
Negotiation, on the other hand, resounds with me. To negotiate means moving towards a solution acceptable to both parties; a solution that both parties actively participate in creating.
It might mean letting go of the things that aren’t fundamentally important, but that push forces you to identify what is stringently the most important aspect(s) of the negotiation. Entering into a negotiation recognizing what are willing to let go of, and what we are not, can make us more adept at building fulfilling relationships/deals/transactions. Sometimes though, we instead realize what is fundamentally important to us though the process of negotiating.