I always saw the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on other people’s bookshelves. I never once thought to borrow the book or even read it, but then I had a friend who was getting rid of his books and there it was.
So I grabbed it.
I flipped through the book and landed on a page with the header “Habit 4 Think Win/Win.” It caught my attention because this is a philosophy I try to always apply to my life: How can I win in this situation and how can you win? It correlated with another philosophy I hold myself to, “Doing the right thing for me doesn’t mean I have to hurt anybody or am hurting anybody.”
Holding belief in the last bit was how I escaped this burden that was placed upon me that by somehow doing what I think is best for me, somehow hurts somebody. Technically I may hurt people with my actions but not ALL THE TIME, as those who loved me the most seem to say when I acted on what I felt I needed to do.
So as I grew older in order to minimize the possibility I could hurt somebody with my actions, I started to think of situations in terms of, “How can I win in this situation and how can you win?” Again, you may not always be able to create win/win situations but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to. Better to hope for the best than settle for what could be the worst.
So what is the basis of Win/Win?
The book states:
Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win/Win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win/Win sees life as a cooperative, not competitive arena.
Sounds great, although slightly utopian, doesn’t it? So how can you start applying win/win to your life?
Well let’s say the situation is based on a conflict. We can first recognize that this person you are in conflict with is a person. Not an obstacle to be bullied or “won over” to your viewpoint. And being a person, they are in the same position as you — they want something and some thing (you) are standing in their way of getting that thing.
So address their interests if you can, if you don’t know what their interests are, figure it out! And then address it when you are speaking with them. The skill of finding out someone’s interest is an important skill to have for any situation, with any relationship you have.
For example: If in a spat with a loved one, what they really may be upset about is not you going out with a friend but that you in doing so you haven’t made your plan in a way that respects the needs of them, maybe you didn’t give them a reasonable notice that you were changing plans on them.
And because your loved one is supposedly “special” to you (which is their interest — to know they are special to you) when actions don’t flow in a way that reaffirms their interest of knowing (and feeling) they are special to you, they become upset [See Understand Your Anger].
So to make this a Win/Win situation, you would have to perform an action that validates their interest of knowing they are special to you but also allows you to make plans as you wanted to do in the first place.
That is the essence of Win/Win, understanding your needs/interests and other people’s needs/interests and doing your best to meet your’s and their’s.