Life may be like a box of chocolates, but it is certainly not a game of Sorry, where one person wins at the expense of all others. It is entirely possible for everyone to win in most voluntary interactions.
For example, if my company gives me a $10,000 raise, it would seem like I win and they lose. I’m getting more money, at the expense of their bottom line, right? Maybe. But what if that raise spurs me on to make an extra $100,000 for the company? That makes it a good investment and a Win/Win scenario.
When I’m dealing with one of my side-business customers or an advertiser, I’m definitely pushing for the Win/Win. Of course I want them to pay me as much as possible, but I also want their repeat business, which won’t happen unless they walk away happy. If I insisted that each of my customers pay the absolute top dollar, I may come out ahead in the short-term, but what about next month or next year? It’s much better for both of us if we can find a happy middle ground.
The four basic forms of interaction are:
1. Win/Lose. This is where I win and you lose. Haha! The problem with a Win/Lose is that the loser isn’t going to come back to play next year. He’s not happy and he’ll probably tell his friends how unhappy he is. This is also the interaction that people are mistakenly assuming when they complain about excessive executive interaction. The CEO is making a million dollars while the folks on the assembly line are stuck with $15 per hour? It’s entirely possible that, if the CEO weren’t doing his job, nobody else would have one. That is, like it or not, Win/Win.
2. Lose/Win. This is where I give up everything, hoping you’ll eventually throw me a bone. It’s a cowardly interaction that won’t work well when dealing with someone playing #1. I’ll keep giving, you’ll keep taking. You go home happy, I go home sore. When it’s done, I won’t do business with you ever again.
3. Lose/Lose. Nobody wins. We fight so hard to get what we want, forcing the other side to give up as much as possible, while they are doing the same. At the end of the day, the hatred is flowing so strong, there’s no possibility of a relationship.
4. Win/Win. Yay! Everybody wins! Everybody’s happy! This will involve some compromise, but hopefully we can reach the happy middle ground where we are both smiling. If I’m looking for a deal that involves you paying me $1000 per month, is it better for me to push to get exactly that, or let myself get talked down to $750? If the $1000 is more than you can afford, so you quit with hard feelings after one month, the ongoing $750 is much, much better for both of us. It is actually in my greedy self-interest to give up that 25% to build our relationship.
Winning doesn’t have to be done at the expense of others. If you do it right, we all win.