3 Steps To That Elusive Win-Win
We’ve all been guilty of this at some point in our lives:
We’ve said yes to something and then later regretted it and wished we could get out of doing whatever that thing was.
I know I’m not the only one guilty of this, I know this happens all the time, and for some of us it’s an all day everyday kinda thing. I’m talking about anything from plans on a Friday night, to a business arrangement, to doing someone a favour.
This kind of behaviour can have HUGE impact on the quality of our lives!! If you’re always saying yes and then either regretting it you’ll eventually start feeling resentful of people, avoiding them, and possibly even convincing yourself that it’s their fault because they’re always asking you to do things you don’t want to and they never taking your feelings/ needs into consideration… which makes no sense because it’s only you that can’t say no.
So if the disease-to-please has such a negative impact on our lives and relationships, why do we have such a hard time saying no or compromising on a solution??
I think the problem is most of us learn at a really young age that: “I either get my way or I don’t.”
We also learn: “If I really want something, I need to fight for it.”
Those types of life lessons teach us that every situation has a win-lose outcome. We also learn that conflict is a means to an end if we want to get our way. That puts us in a place of unconsciously choosing whether we’d prefer to fight and win or suck it up and lose – can we deal with the consequence of not getting our way if it means avoiding a fight?
For most people that’s a ‘Hell Ya!’ – avoid conflict at all costs.
The thing is, when we’re living in that perspective, the win-lose perspective, what we’re actually creating are lose-lose situations.
Yup… if one of you ‘loses’ – you both do.
And the funny thing is, we tell ourselves that what we’ve been doing is compromising, and it’s definitely not. Win-lose and lose-lose situations are not examples of compromise!
We’ve been trying for ages to convince ourselves that we’re good at compromising and the truth is we suck at it. We go into situations ‘looking to come out losing the least amount possible’ as opposed to looking at what is the best possible outcome for everyone, and how can we make everyone feel like a winner!
What difference would it make in your life if you knew you could have a win-win just about every time you entered into an important conversation with someone?
Unfortunately, you are fairly conditioned to have that not happen. We are taught to look out for ourselves because no one else will. We also learn that if we want people to like us we kinda-sorta-have-to edit what we really think, how we really feel, and what we really need. We learn that being polite is the way to go and that avoiding being too demanding or burdensome is a key part of building relationships.
Long-term? Not sustainable or effective in having happy, healthy, and functional relationships. In order to make a difference here, we’re going to have to blow the roof off your preconceived notions about compromise and start from scratch with some clear and simple new steps to creating a true win-win in your life.
Here are 3 simple steps to get you started:
Step 1: The Real Why
Ok – first off, you have to get connected to WHY you want what you want. Anytime you come up against a situation where compromise is necessary you get caught up in trying to figure out how to protect your interests, you only look at WHAT you want and go from there.
Unfortunately, that’s the beginning of your inevitable fail.
When you let go of ‘the what’ and look at why you want what you want, the doors of possibility open up. When you’re not attached to a specific solution, you’re instead connected to the end results you really want – which can usually be met by a number of different solutions rather than only the original plan anyway.
It’s not about the specific movie on Friday night, it’s about time with the person. Or it is about the specific movie and the specific person wasn’t as important – you can do something else with them another time…
It’s not about who picks up your kids, it’s that your kids get picked up at a specific time. Or, it is about who picks up your kids because you want your kids to spend time with that person and the specific time isn’t as important, just convenient for you.
Can you see where I’m going with this? Hang in there, it’ll become clear.
Step 2: What Really Matters
Once you’ve figured out why you really want something, you need to look at why it’s important. It’s through discovering what’s important that you will start to see different options to accomplish the same end.
It’s not about the specific movie, as a matter of fact, it’s not even about a movie or a Friday night at all! It’s about the person and you want to spend time with them! They’re important to you and you haven’t seen them in a while! The movie and Friday were just ideas to help facilitate you seeing your friend.
Step 3: Ask Them
What if you found out that the reason Friday worked for them was that they were actually going to be in town for the first time in weeks. What if you found out that a movie didn’t really work for them because they hadn’t been home in their own space for weeks and they really just wanted to chill in their sweats with a glass of wine.
(….. I’ve never been through this exact experience… no really… this isn’t taken from the archives of my life 😉 ……)
Wouldn’t all that information open up some room for negotiation? Since it didn’t matter about the movie anyway and you’re happy to see your person wherever it works for them?
And if you don’t ask the questions, the likely outcome would be that you’d either go to the movie and your friend would feel like they ‘lost’ in the compromise and in turn you’d ‘lose’ because you’d sense that your friend wasn’t all on board with going out. Or one of you would cancel and you wouldn’t get to see each other at all and although your friend would win because they got to stay home, you’d both lose because you missed out on seeing each other.
Let’s have a look at another situation and see what real compromise might look like.
You made plans with a friend of yours a few weeks ago to go out to dinner at a popular new restaurant this Saturday night. You’ve booked well in advance because both of you have hectic schedules and the restaurant is so popular you need to book at least 3 weeks in advance to get in on a Saturday. It’s now Saturday at 3pm, you’ve already had a really long and crazy week, and your Saturday hasn’t been much better – the last thing you feel like doing is getting dressed up to go out on the town…
Can I just say as a side note it’s this type of thing that, in the past, has deterred me from making plans in advance? The not knowing how to deal with not wanting to do what I had originally said I wanted to do, so avoiding putting myself in the position of having to renegotiate what the original agreement was… I notice this is becoming a really common phenomenon out there for others too.
How many of you avoid making plans in advance because you worry about what will happen if you don’t feel like doing what you originally said you’d do, and you don’t want to have to disappoint the other party by canceling or changing plans?
Well, consider that if you were skilled at the art of true compromise, you’d be WAY less hesitant to make plans in advance because you’d know how to renegotiate and keep the relationship and all the good things about it wholly in tact 😉
Ok. Back to the example situation…
At first blush, it looks like you’ve only got 2 options:
Option 1 – Cancel with your friend, leaving them disappointed and potentially with no plans for the evening.
Option 2 – Go regardless of the fact you don’t want to and although you won’t be disappointing your friend, the sense of obligation you feel will overshadow the evening.
In this case: look at why you decided to book the evening with your friend in the first place. This can be a myriad of reasons and getting to the heart of the matter is important. Let’s assume you wanted to spend time with your friend, to connect, catch up, and maybe have some fun.
** If you booked this because you felt obligated in the first place, that’s a completely different conversation – one that certainly deserves addressing in another forum.
In this case: was it about the fun or the connection? If it was about the fun, what would be fun right now? If it was about connection, what are other options that could fulfill on that?
Let’s say your friend was still in the mood for going out for dinner. Her original ‘why’ was primarily about the connection with a dash of fun sprinkled in as well.
With that information, there’s loads of room for negotiation. Maybe instead of going to the posh new eatery where you have to get all dressed up, you pick somewhere you can put on a ball cap and sneakers. Maybe your friend offers to cook and you can go over in your sweats, maybe you offer to order delivery and your friend comes over in their PJs. Who knows what you’ll come up with. Maybe you pack a bag and go for a quick overnight getaway and order room service and watch bad movies together.
When you have all the information about what’s really important you have a lot more room to make effective and qualified decisions!
Now before you freak out about how simple this is and it would never apply to a more challenging real-life situation than a simple Saturday night date, give the process a shot. Figure out the original ‘why’, discover what really matters about that original why, and then ask questions of the other parties involved.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at a serious issue with an intimate partner, your family, clients, or business associates. When you can get down to the real core of the situation as opposed to the outlying, surface solutions, then you have access to creating that (up until now) elusive win-win.
Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.
Until next time,
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