#4 – Think Win-Win

So we move right along on the continuing saga of Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Thus far we have discussed the first three habits.  The first three habits focus on the power of self, and even more putting the habits into practice to move ourselves from dependence into a state of independence.  The next three habits are based on the concept of moving from independence to interdependence.  This is how we work with others and learn to coexist with different types of personalities.  The first of these is the fourth habit: “Think Win-Win”.

“Think Win-Win” can be a tough practice.  With the first three habits we have learned to build on ourselves.  Using these tools we strive to move ahead and better ourselves, increasing our standing in life or our position in life.  As we push ahead, we do so in sync with others who strive for the same desires and needs.  So how do we all win in the end?  The answer comes in cooperation and collaboration.  By working in harmony with others, we achieve the ideal outcome.

One important principle is that the basis of win/win isn’t based on one event or one example.  There are always going to be times where win/win is just not achievable.  This isn’t about avoiding those situations.  It’s about building a general basis for how we interact with others and adjusting our mindsets as we enter these situations to seek the best outcome first.

Let’s consider the possible combinations.  First, we have the win/win scenario.  The win-win situation is the result of respect, integrity and principles.  It forges relationships and moves everyone forward collectively.  Next we have the concept of I win/you lose.  This is the competitive spirit.  It’s based on a principle of authority.  While it may move me further down my path of personal desires or getting something done, I gain nothing in terms of a relationship.  The third combination is I lose/you win.  This is what Covey calls the “doormat paradigm”.  This is the person that is always stepped on and gives in to the wishes of others.  By being overly passive and letting others take advantage of us, we obviously gain nothing.  Finally, we have lose/lose.  This is the worst scenario.  This is conflict.  This is that point we get at with another person where we have decided not to coexist and every interaction becomes a battle.  This is also a terrible pitfall to ourselves when we perpetually operate here, as when someone else always loses too, we get complacent on our own losing patterns.  NOTE:  In Covey’s text, there are two other possibilities as well.  I’m not going to get into those for the sake of this text.  I’ll make you read the book to find them out.

As I mentioned earlier, while think win/win is the best scenario, it isn’t always the correct scenario.  Let’s say you are a manager and an employee has repeatedly taken advantage of us or failed to comply to policy or rules.  We may have to discipline them or in worst case situations terminate that person’s employment.  This is a win/lose situation, but it’s the correct action to take given the circumstance.  Strive for the best scenario, but understand that sometimes it just can’t be done.

So how do we achieve a win/win situation?  How do we put ourselves into an interaction to best achieve this most desired outcome.  First, always try to consider the other person’s point of view.  Every person has their own needs that they need to have fulfilled and their own desires for achievement.  Until we consider their perspective, we may not fully understand the nature of the interaction.  Second, correctly identify and focus on the issues.  Situations are not always about personalities or personal conflict.  Work together to attack the problem and not each other.  Next, work with the other person to collaborate on the desired outcome.  As a manager, don’t be afraid to simply ask the employee what they are looking to accomplish.  By both people having a clearer understanding, we can better find the common goals and “middle ground” in which to operate.  And finally, in conjunction to finding out what the other person wants to accomplish, seek to find alternatives that would be mutually beneficial.  By soliciting input from a person versus simply making demands, we prove to the other person that their ideas and thoughts are important.

Thinking win/win not only helps us work better with others, but it makes us more approachable to others.  Often we have to give in to our natural tendencies in interacting with people.  Many times it’s at both ends of the spectrum too.  We may want to be overly selfish and get what we want, or we may just concede every time to avoid conflict.  Neither of these situations really produce the outcome that each party really needs.  As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a challenging practice and a delicate balancing act.  What are some of the tools you have used in the past that have helped to seek win/win situations?

~ by bfmooz on July 12, 2011.

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