Going for Win/Win Solutions in the Workplace
By Lolita Villa

According to Stephen Covey's powerful best seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, conflict between people in business is the result of a flawed paradigm. Some people may be going after a certain result, but simultaneously do the exact opposite of what they are trying to achieve. For example, a president trying to establish cooperation between employees fails in the attempt because he uses the paradigm of competition to achieve his desired result.

In order to succeed in a leadership role, you need to be able to influence people effectively. And this requires the habit of taking on the Win/Win paradigm or mindset.

Win/Win or No deal
Win/Win is an attitude that seeks the mutual benefit of all parties involved in their interactions. With this kind of approach to facing problems and creating solutions, everyone feels satisfied, does not feel shortchanged, and is voluntarily committed to the agreed plan of action. This kind of thinking is based on the paradigm that abundance is available to all, and that the success of one does not encroach or threaten the success of others. The other side of the Win/Win approach is No Deal, wherein all parties decide not to push through with the matter if anyone else feels unhappy with the proposed solutions.

The Win/Win approach radically differs from what most people in the workplace are used to. We have been so immersed in the culture of Win/Lose that our workplace has produced merely a few winners and plenty of losers to the detriment of the organization. The Win/Lose thinking can be seen in organizations riddled with dirty politics, unhealthy competition and a pervading culture of suspicion and selfishness.

Join any company where rank and file employees are bad mouthing their superiors, tardiness and absenteeism is at a high rate, or where the need to be closely monitored due to a lack of self-motivation is rife then you can see the concept of Win/ Lose at work. In this setting, employees typically feel exploited, unappreciated and taken advantage of by management. Similarly, employers feel like they are wasting their money on lazy and apathetic workers. Or perhaps, co-workers manipulate and destroy each other, all in the name of climbing up the corporate ladder. Therefore, each individual tries to take advantage of the other in order to keep one step ahead, confident that while others are losing, he/ she is winning the race. Meanwhile, the vicious cycle continues.

We must realize that the workplace thrives on an interdependent reality where no man can operate effectively on his own. With the kind of corporate structure we have now, team work and mutual cooperation is essential to success. Anything less than a Win/Win interdependent reality will surely affect a long-term relationship in a negative way. If you are unable to achieve a Win/Win solution in your interactions, it's better to go for No Deal. As long as all decisions are based on honesty and a sense of good will, they are bound to pay in the long run (even in a No Deal situation), which is infinitely better than Win/Lose and other lesser variations of such paradigms.

Understanding the positions of each stakeholder in the organization, being courageous enough to state our own needs and feelings, and listening intently to the other parties in every situation is a valuable attitude in attaining good will and good business for the long term.

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