The Path to a Win-Win Solution Guest Post by Carthage


A common phrase in communication is ‘seek the win-win’. In fact, I will probably use is a couple of times in this article. It is used so often because it really is the foundation of strong, positive relationships. You will regularly find times when you are in a disagreement with others or, when your needs are slightly different. The most common approach to these situations is to try and get your own way without consideration for the other person. However, this will generally lead to conflict, stress and damaged relationships. The real pity about this is that conflict is usually avoidable as there is a win-win solution to be found in most situations.

Even where both people cannot get exactly what they want, there is usually a good opportunity to find a win-win solution which is acceptable to both parties. When you identify and, implement, a win-win solution, both parties leave the csituation with a sense of accomplishment and a better feeling about the relationship. The very fact that you attempted to find a win-win solution is usually enough to build the respect and trust required to build positive relationships.

The path to a win-win solution

There really is no reason for not trying to find a win-win solution. Whenever you find you are in disagreement with others and, you are seeking a different solution, implement the steps below. You will usually be able to find a win-win solution which is acceptable to all parties.

1. Separate the issue from the person

We all have different values and beliefs. We also have different wants and needs from life. Just because you would have behaved differently in a given situation, it does not mean that the other person is wrong. The world is not black and white. There rarely is just one right and one wrong way to do something. I can tell you from past experience that when you act like the world is black and white; you will inflict a lot of unnecessary suffering upon yourself.

Also, bear in mind that we all do stupid things from time to time. Nobody is 100% good and nobody is 100% bad. When we remember this, we are reminded that a bad act does not make a bad person. When you need to speak to someone about the way they have behaved, make every effort to separate the act from the person. If the person feels like you are attacking them, rather than challenging their behaviour; they are likely to feel threatened and close down the channels of communication. The constructive feedback model will give you some guidelines as to how you can separate the issue and the person.

2. Do your homework

An argument based upon opinions and assumptions is rarely convincing. Do your homework before raising your issue. Have your facts, figures and details to hand. The more support that you can offer for your viewpoint, the more likely the other person is to listen to you. Think of it like seeking investment in your business. If you couldn’t tell the potential investors how much money you have made and, expect to make, they are not very likely to take you up on your offer. With important conversations, it is essential that you prepare. Your preparation will demonstrate the benefits of your suggestion and so, increase the likelihood that the other person will want to seek a win-win solution.

3. State what it is that you want

It is amazing how many people will enter a discussion or negotiation without being clear on what they want. Even when they are clear, they are often not keen on sharing with the other person what it is that they want. But, how is the other person supposed to help you find a win-win solution if they do not know what you constitute as a win? I have, in the past, attended negotiations which dragged on for ages, only to be completed within minutes of one side opening up and stating ‘this is what we are looking for’. People are not mind readers; they cannot help you achieve your goal unless you tell them what your goal is.

Obviously, in critical situations, you do not want to tell them what the worst offer that you are prepared to accept is but, you can always tell what the ideal outcome you are looking for is.

4. Listen intently

Just as others cannot help you find a win-win solution unless you tell them what you want; you cannot help them find a win-win solution unless they tell you what they want. It is imperative that you listen intently to them. Do not be afraid to ask probing questions to gather more information. Invite them to tell you more and, if necessary, don’t be afraid to ask them straight out what they are looking for. The more relevant information that you can gather, the easier it becomes to resolve the situation amicably.

5. Repeat and emphasise the key points

Once both parties have spoken, it is important that you repeat what you believe to be the key points. This demonstrates that you understand the other person while also reasserting the important issues for you. Invite the other person to add any key points which they feel you might have missed.

6. Seek a win/win solution

Once you are agreed on the key points, make it clear that you would like to find a win-win solution i.e. an agreement that works for both of you. Don’t just enforce your own views on this. Invite them to offer their own suggestions. If you can find a suitable solution there and then, that is great. If you cannot, then you can agree a later time to come back to the discussion; allowing you both more time to generate ideas.

7. Deliver on what you have promised

You may think that once you have come to an agreement, you have achieved your win-win solution. This is not the case. Your solution has not been achieved until you have taken the necessary action and the situation has been successfully resolved. Agreements without action occur every day and they are of no value. The only agreements that are of true value are the ones which are acted upon. That is why you absolutely must deliver on what you promise. If you don’t, you will lose all trust and respect and, your relationship may be irreparably damaged.

Finding win-win solutions is just one aspect of effective communication skills. Learn more with How To Talk So Others Will Listen.

One of the most important skills in building positive relationships is the ability to find a win-win solution when you hold opposing views. Conflict and stress occur when you attempt to force your ways upon others. This can do irreparable damage to your relationships. Then, when you are most in need of some help, you may find that you have burned your bridges, leaving you with nobody to turn to. This is unnecessary because in most situations, there will be at least one win-win solution to be found. When you try to find a win-win solution you build trust and earn the respect of the other person, even if your attempts to find such a solution are unsuccessful. Also, if people know that you generally find a win-win solution, they will be more understanding on those rare occasions where you have to insist on having your own way.


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