In any human interaction there are six paradigms: win/win, lose/lose, win/lose, win, lose/win, or no deal. The 'win' alternative is a little different from the others, as people with this mentality don't necesarily care if others win or lose. What matters is that they get what they want.
Which option is best? In "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", Stephen R. Covey says that "it depends". If you are playing a football game, then if you win, the other team loses; if you value the relationship with the other person and the issue does not really matter - then a lose/win situation may be OK.
In most situations in business the win/win option is really the only viable alternative of the six. However, at the beginning of a business relationship or enterprise, 'no deal' may be a viable option.
Success in closing deals and in developing value partnerships in business is based on a win/win approach. So how do you make this work for you. Covey identifies 5 dimensions of win/win:
- Character. This is the foundation of win/win that is based on the character traits of integrity (the value we place on ourselves), maturity (the courage to express one's convictions balanced with the feelings of others) and a mentality of abundance (there is enough for everyone).
- Relationships. From the foundation of character we build the relationship of trust that is necessary for win/win. Without trust there is lack of credibility for open communication, and the best we can hope for is compromise.
- Agreements. From relationships flow agreements that move the interaction to a win/win conclusion.
- Supportive Systems. Win/ win can only work in organizations where systems support this. Talking win/win, but rewarding win/lose you have a losing program on your hands. You reward system must align to the goals and values that are reflected in your mission statement.
- Supportive Processes. You can't get to win/win by saying "we will get to win/win, whether you like it or not." In their book, "Getting to Yes", Fisher & Ury describe the 'principled' approach versus the 'positional' approach in bargaining. This process separates the person from the problem; focuses on interests and not on positions; invents options for mutual gain; and insists on criteria that both parties can buy into.
"We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life."