Habit 4: Think Win-Win

What it takes to find Win-Win solutions

It can be HARD to find a solution that pleases everyone. A lot of the time, it’s easier to a) assert your will and be done with it or b) resign yourself to what others want. Most of us have been trained to believe that resources are scarce, that cutthroat competition is inevitable, that there are winners and losers, that compromising means no one is truly happy with the result. A lot of these beliefs operate unconsciously, and can show up as chronic jealousy, resentment, overwhelm and/or guilt — a recipe for burnout if there ever was one. The scarcity/competition mindset plays out at work, in marriages, in families, and in friendships.

I’ll admit that when I first got to the chapter on Habit 4, Think Win-Win, I had to suppress an eyeroll. Like a few of the buzzwords in this book, the term and concept of “win-win” feels a bit cliched and overused to me, though when Covey wrote 7 HABITS in 1988 it was a much newer term. But as I kept reading, I realized that this is a rich concept, much more complex than it seems.

I won’t go through all of the mindset combinations here in as much detail as Covey does. He describes all of the ways we typically approach negotiations at work and at home. The bottom line is, if you go with any solution in which someone walks away unhappy, the person with the quick win ultimately loses some other way — the relationship with the other person is damaged, or they’ve violated their own integrity.

The best win-win solutions are often very creative and arise out of good quality conversations in which all parties listen and share honestly. The final solution may be something that was not visible to anyone at the start of talks. Covey argues that those who consistently go for win-win solutions share these character traits:

🔸 Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments

 Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others, and

🔹 Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone

It’s not about “being nice” or “being weak” (more evidence of how scripted most of us are in the competitive mindset!), but about balancing consideration with confidence. You have to be empathic, sensitive and bold all at once, and be willing to walk away if a mutually-beneficial solution cannot be found.

(Note: This is a continuation of my series of posts on the habits outlined in THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, a personal development/business book that has been on my to-read list for ages and which I finished earlier this month. I think all of the strategies in this book can help with stress management and reducing vulnerability to burnout. Find previous posts on Habits 1-3 here on my blog: http://pxlme.me/2gLl6y5A. And if you need help discovering a win-win solution in your marriage, family or workplace, get in touch! My e-mail is dobbinlmft@gmail.com.)