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  • Deborah Moyer

The Art of the Win-Win

How many times have you had to negotiate with someone who always seems to need to win at everything?

You feel like your point of view or perspective has serious merit, but it’s automatically ignored or discounted. You feel you’re on the losing side of a win/lose relationship and frankly, you’re SO over it!

We have all have been taught since childhood that winning isn’t everything. That may be true, but losing isn’t much fun either.

Can’t there be something in between?

Absolutely! Even if you don’t agree with someone else’s perspective or opinion, there’s still an opportunity for a win-win on both sides of negotiation or a problem.

So, why is it that we’ve come to expect only one winner at the end of any debate?

Society is constantly reinforcing the message that winning is meaningful when only a precious few can earn a place at the head of the line.

Winning is our society’s way to gather prestige, respect, and peer approval.

But, let’s face it! It also makes us feel REALLY good!

Losing, not so much.

Losing takes away our power. It makes us feel like we aren’t good enough or we’re not living up to an arbitrary standard someone else created.

When losing becomes unhealthy

The most dangerous aspect of that kind of energy is that it feeds the narrative of our limiting beliefs and that’s something we really don’t want to encourage.

Sometimes a person automatically defaults to being the loser in an argument because they lack confidence.

In some cases, people who may have been immersed in a certain culture, or taught by their family dynamic, will automatically give way to others who express strong opinions, or beliefs, as a form of respect.

It can be extremely difficult for these individuals to express themselves or believe that they have an equal voice.

But, the truth is, any conversation, disagreement or situation can be successfully approached with a win-win perspective.

How? Here are 4 suggestions.

1. You need to start with genuine intent that everyone can take something positive away from the experience or conversation.

An article in offers this suggestion: “People's positions are rarely as opposed as they may initially appear, and the other person may have very different goals from the ones you expect! So, try to keep an open mind and be flexible in your thinking.”

They’re right! Going in with the mindset that your opinion, perception, or belief is the only option sets you up for an all-or-nothing ending.

Starting a dialog with an open mind then allows everyone the option to meet in the middle and find some common ground.

2. A true win-win requires active listening skills.

It’s not about being on the offensive, ready to do battle to prove your point or go down with the ship.

Active listening requires not only hearing but absorbing and processing information, regardless of whether it’s in line with your opinion or not.

It’s an act of respect that says “I’m willing to hear what your concerns are”.

If you start a dialog with preconceived ideas as to why they believe something without asking first, it only serves to create a pre-mature framework of thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that will make finding common ground that much more difficult.

How often have you tried to resolve an issue without clarifying the other person’s perspective first? How often did you feel you’ve won in those cases?

Often this tactic creates even more frustration and ends up escalating an issue that could have otherwise been easily resolved.

3. Focus on options that would allow all parties to feel they’ve gotten something of value from the process.

Ask yourself which part of the issue is least important to you to win on? Which part is the most important? What are you willing to give in to the process that wouldn’t upset you to lose?

Answering these questions will give you a basis to both negotiate and benefit from.

Win-win doesn’t mean you get everything you want, but that you got enough to feel you won more than you expected.

4. Always separate the person from the issue.

Our emotional baggage can prevent us from seeing a problem for what it is. If we’re intensely upset with an individual, it’s harder to separate our feelings for our adversary from the problem.

Problems can be fixed. Unfortunately, we can’t fix other people.

So, if you are facing a challenge like this, make a serious effort to take the person out of the equation and focus solely on the issue at hand.

This isn’t always a walk in the park, but many times you’ll find it a lot easier to find creative solutions and you’ll remove unwanted stress in the process.’s article also recommends using objective criteria for your assessment and solutions process.

Staying objective and using facts, not opinions or feelings, allows everyone to negotiate from a non-emotional place that isn’t slanted toward personal interest.

It’s always easier to resolve an issue when you keep anger, resentment, or frustration out of the equation.

Developing a win-win formula in your everyday interactions can give you a sense of confidence and freedom from the stress of conflict.

You no longer dread problems because you have the tools to defuse them. You’re able to keep things more pleasant, or at least civil, and you can finally focus on solutions with higher clarity.

Try the win-win formula at home, at work, or even at play. People appreciate it when you take their interests into consideration and genuinely want them to win too.

So, my friend, as I always say….stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!