Image courtesy of Suat Eman /

It’s fall and that means football season! Time to wear your team’s colors and root them on to victory. But when it comes to relationships, winning and competition aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, the author describes several possible outcomes from interactions with other people.

Win/Lose – I get my way and you don’t get yours.

Win – Others are irrelevant because it only matters that I get what I want. (a.k.a. Narcissism)

Lose/Win – I’ll do anything to keep the peace and so let you have your way.

Lose/Lose – I want you to lose even if it means I lose too. (a.k.a. Revenge)

Win/Win – Not your way or my way, but a better way.

No Deal – We agree to disagree agreeably and move on.

Our cultural mantra of competition continually grades us in comparison to others. Who had the highest grade or the most sales or the best reviews? Under pressure, we tend to default to the Win/Lose mindset where even compromise feels like losing. Yuck!

On the other hand, Win/Win solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying, and have a profound impact on long-term relationships. Not to mention, if No Deal is a possible outcome on the table, I’m liberated from the need to manipulate or push or drive for my agenda. I can focus on the relationships and deposit into those emotional bank accounts. (LINK) Win/Win has an abundance mentality that believes there is plenty out there for everybody and that a public victory for myself does not mean victory over other people.

So, how do I work toward a Win/Win agreement?

  1. See the problem from the other person’s point of view.
  2. Identify the key issues and concerns, not the positions or personalities.
  3. Determine what results constitute a fully acceptable solution.
  4. Identify possible new options to achieve those results.
  5. Keep working toward a clearly stated agreement.

Thinking about and working toward Win/Win solutions takes courage and consideration based on a foundation of character. I can’t go for a win unless I have a deep sense of what constitutes a win. (After all, if the other person’s losing damages our relationship, then that hurts me too and so I didn’t really win after all!) Then it takes courage to express my feelings and convictions balanced by consideration for the feelings and convictions of others. Even if the other person wants me to lose, I can still make deposits into their account through genuine courtesy and respect, by listening more, not being reactive, and continuing to work for the Win/Win.

Because when everyone wins (i.e. gets the desired results), we all win.

What about you? Do you tend to strive for the win at all costs or are you a martyr-loser instead? What obstacles are keeping you from working toward Win/Win solutions?

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Tools For The Journey – Habit #4 – Think Win/Win

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