In the past few issues, we introduced the first three habits of personal management proposed by Stephen R. Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The three habits are "Be proactive", "Begin with the end in mind", and "Put first things first". Besides personal management, the author stressed the importance for family and organisation to build a fulfilling life. He therefore proposes the fourth habit of "Think Win/Win", which is a principle of interpersonal relationship.
The author analysed various types of human interactions, including Win/Win (mutual benefits), Win/Lose ("I win, you lose"), Lose/Win ("I lose, you win"), and Lose/Lose ("we both lose"). Among all, Win/Lose seems to be the most familiar and common paradigm. Win/Lose is the authoritarian approach originating from the framework of competition and comparison - "if I win, then you lose; if you win, then I lose".
Which option is the best? The author's comment was "it depends". However, the Win/Win paradigm generally works the best in the long run. Thinking Win/Win emphasises on the rights of both parties in order to achieve a mutually beneficial solution. It emphasises co-operation but not competition. Its principle is totally different from that of Win/Lose - "It's not your way or my way; it's a better way, a higher way."
How can we achieve Win/Win? Integrity is the major foundation. One has to be honest, congruent and mature in order to establish trust and facilitate co-operation in relationship.
To achieve Win/Win ends, we also need a Win/Win negotiation process. First, we really seek to understand the problem from the other point of view in terms of the needs and concerns of the other party. Then, identify the key issues and concerns involved in both parties, and determine what results would make a fully acceptable solution. Finally, both parties work together to identify new options to achieve those results.
Establishing an agreement following the negotiation process can facilitate performance against a mutually agreed standard and avoid over-regulation that reduces trust in relationship. For Win/Win to work in an organisation, there should be appropriate policies and a reward/penalty system to support the principles.
As the author has said, there is plenty out there for everyone; thus, Win/Lose is not the only option. Think Win/Win, and everyone can be a winner!
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