Effective Win-Win Problem Solving

Skip This if You Like Compromise!

Have you ever heard the story about the two goddesses fighting over the orange?  Two strong beautiful goddesses, but only one orange.  The mediator that they hired, cut the orange in half, each goddess was given one of the pieces. It sounds fair doesn’t it?  Both got one half of the orange, both should be satisfied.

After all, isn’t compromise the best way to solve a problem between people?  (or goddesses?).

Neither one was satisfied. Both received a little of what they wanted, but both wanted more. Goddess one wanted the orange juice, goddess two was baking a cake and wanted the orange zest, the shaving from the skin.  Neither had enough of what they wanted.  The compromise made neither one happy.

The way to avoid his problem is to be aware of what each person or goddess wants.  This requires good communication skills. (See 10 Habits of Really Good Listeners.)

How do we resolve problems and at the same time improve the relationship?

1.  Start with Listening

Understand what the other person wants, needs or is concerned about.

Be able to state, in your own words, what the other person, thinks, feels, or wants.  Tell your partner what you have heard, and check with your partner:  “Is this what you are concerned about?”

2.  Each person takes a turn at expressing his or her wants, needs or concerns.

Both agree to hear and make sure that both understand each person’s position.  See Five Tips for Getting To Win-Win Negotiating for more details on this.

3.  Keep in mind that the goal is to improve the result for both of you. If you are successful, both of you will come out ahead.

4.  If it is not possible to satisfy both at the same time, (you cannot go to the mountains and the beach in the same vacation) remember that there is a trade off.  The relationship is important.  To protect the relationship if both cannot be satisfied at one time, then over the long term, both should be satisfied and rewarded.   If one person agrees with the plan that the other one wants, then the next time there is a choice the one who made the sacrifice first, gets the reward the second time. Over the long run, the relationship is equal.

For this to work:  Both agree to listen effectively and with respect.  Both make a point of indicating what they want in a clear and effective way.  Respectful interactions are essential.  Care and concern for the relationship is essential.  Positive, rewarding relationships are the reward.