Nectar Of Wisdom

W – Act Win-Win

“Win-win is not your way or my way; it’s a better way, a higher way.”


Opening Story:

A Salary Negotiation


A friend of mine is a department manager at a large company. His secretary requested a 10 percent raise. She was worth it.

The problem was that 10 percent represented a large raise compared to the 5 percent other employees had received. Was there a creative both-win way out of this problem?

As they explored the possibilities, several ideas emerged. The company starts work at 8am and closes at 5pm.

The manager learned that his secretary encountered heavy traffic every evening on the way home. They agreed to have her work from 7:30am to 4:30am This saved her at least 20-25 minutes driving time. Certainly, a benefit to her at little or no expense to the company.

They then studied her job in detail. Before long they jointly developed a new description, which gave her more responsibility, and, at the same time, more interesting work.

Both parties benefitted from the changed scope of work. The raise itself was then discussed. A compromise was reached by agreeing on a 6 percent raise for three months and then an additional 2 percent later if the new responsibilities were adequately performed.

What was accomplished in this management situation was to move the talks from a confrontation and contest to a win-win arrangement.

Negotiation on the higher win-win level did the job. Together they created values and satisfactions that were not there before, values that both sides welcomed. The company gained by enlarging the scope of work in exchange for a raise that was less than the 10 percent requested.

The manager also gained something that was even more valuable, an employee who knew she could work with her boss in a creative both-win way.

resolving differences and disagreements in relationships, there are only four possible outcomes.

  1. One is for the resolution to be good for you but not for the other person. We call this win–lose. The danger in this is that the other person may feel defeated, slighted, or resentful. These lingering feelings may very well contaminate the relationship, ultimately leading to unhappiness for you.
  2. A second is for the resolution to benefit the other person but not you — a lose–win proposition. In this, you may very well feel upset, possibly contaminating your future interactions with this person, making harmony and happiness a casualty.
  3. A third resolution is that it ends up bad for both of you. You both feel like you lost and you both will likely carry bad feeling forward. There is unlikely to be no happiness here for anyone and the future of the relationship may very well be put into jeopardy.
  4. The best outcome is when you work hard to find a resolution that works for both of you. You see to it that there are no losers. You both win and feel good about the outcome. This ensures that you both continue to derive pleasure from the relationship without being dragged down by hurt or resentment.

Practicing Win–Win

The win–win process is fairly simple and straightforward, yet it is often not easy to pull off. This is so because it requires a much different mindset than most of us bring to our disagreements. Moreover, it requires some patience and self-control, as you will see below. But, by bothering to follow the process, you will be pleasantly surprised by the solutions you find and gratified by the increased happiness you derive from your relationships.

Step One – Be Alert. Rather than avoiding the differences or disagreements you may have in your relationships, acknowledge them. Be clear that, if ignored, they can fester and deprive you of the full pleasures these relationships can bring. Be aware that these disagreements provide a wonderful opportunity to deepen your bond with others so long as you handle the differences in a respectful win–win way.

Step Two – Eliminate Upset. It is very difficult for two people to cooperate when one or both harbor hurt or resentment. How willing are you to patiently listen when you feel anger? How motivated are you to cooperatively find a win-win resolution when you carry hurt? Clearly, to make a win–win resolution possible, you need to rid yourself of your hurt and anger.

Step Three – Adopt a Win–Win Attitude.  This means that you make a commitment to find a resolution to your disagreements that works for both of you.  You genuinely adopt the posture that you will not agree to a solution where you win but your companion loses.  You also make sure to commit to not agree to a solution where the other person wins and you lose.  You commit to only agree to a solution in which both of you win and neither of you loses.

Step Four – Purposefully Listen. You presumably already know what is a win for you.  You also need to know what is a win for the other person as well.  How can you find a win-win without knowing the other person’s win as well as your own? To get this information, you need to purposely listen.  This requires you to listen without judgment or censorship, just to understand.  That is, you listen to exactly what each other wants without the intrusion of your own wants or values.  Once you are equipped with the information this non-judgmental listening provides, you are now equipped to find a win–win resolution to your disagreement.

Step Five – Synergistic Brainstorming.  Without emotional contamination, with the win–win mindset, and fully understanding what is a win for both of you, you are now primed to find a workable solution to your disagreement. What you do in Step Five is to simply let the ideas fly, brainstorming solutions until you find one that satisfies both of you. Be patient, though, because this can take some time and effort.

Live It

Let’s summarize what’s been said so far. In all relationships there will be disagreements. How these disagreements are resolved — win–lose, lose–win, lose–lose, win–win — will go a long way in determining the degree of pleasure and happiness in those relationships. Striving for a win–win resolution to any disagreement cannot help but lead to ongoing relationship happiness.

To live win–win, adopt the following practices. The first two are mental, the last three behavioral.

  1. Commit to win–win. Make a firm commitment to approach all differences you have with another with the win–win mentality. This will help you strive for a resolution that feels good to both of you. You will find pleasure in doing so and the other person will appreciate you for the effort.
  2. Think Breakthrough.Many people approach their relationship problems as catastrophes.  That is, they view their disagreements with others as horrors, things to be avoided at all costs. It goes without saying that this breakdown mindset does not lend itself to constructive problem solving.

In breakthrough thinking, you look upon your relationship problems as opportunities to work together to achieve new levels of closeness and intimacy.  The questions a breakthrough thinker asks are: What are the possibilities for a win–win solution to this problem?  What can we learn that will help us be more happy together?  What is the opportunity that exists in this disagreement to build a closer bond?

People who adopt the breakthrough mentality will still not like to experience disagreements in their relationships, but they don’t fear or avoid them.  To the contrary, they welcome them when they arise as opportunities for win–win breakthroughs.  You can approach your inevitable differences and disagreements this way too.

  1. Schedule Problem Solving Meetings. This won’t work for your more casual relationships, but it certainly will pay off for your more important ones. I encourage you to schedule regular meetings with your significant other, your children, and your close colleagues with the agenda being to identify and resolve conflicts.  I’ve known couples who meet an hour each week to surface and resolve conflicts.  These meetings are not only an excellent opportunity to resolve the more important issues in your relationship life, but they also serve to prevent differences or disagreements from festering over time whereby hurt and resentment can build. In these meetings, follow three ground rules.  One, do not turn them into a complaint session. Two, reinforce your mutual commitment to the win–win principle.  Three, be more committed to hearing and understanding than to telling and selling your point of view.
  2. Listen, Listen, Listen. Listening is a profoundly important skill for relationship happiness.  And, as pointed out, it is an essential part of win–win resolutions to disagreements.  Beyond problem solving, remember that listening also serves to communicate caring and respect.  So, you can hardly listen too much.  Practice it daily and see the results in your relationship satisfaction and happiness.
  3. Teach It.We deepen our understanding when we teach something. So, teaching win–win to others aids our own ability to use it, thereby increasing the possibility for more happiness in our relationship life. Beyond that, passing this relationship-enhancing skill on to our significant others, our children, our friends, and our colleagues, sets the stage for mutual happiness all around.
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