Everyone sometimes feels torn between two pulls. You want to go somewhere; and at the same time you want to stay. You want to eat a cookie; you yet want to losse weight.
Conflicts occor often between, as well as within, folks. All duos, at home and at work, from time to time have differences. One wants to turn left and the other to turn right. Fortunately, differences needn't lead either to fighting or to giving up on what you want. There's no need to compromise either.
Here's further good news. The same strategy for talking through problems that works between two people works also for inner dialogue between two parts of yourself when one side of you wants one plan of action and the other prefers an alternative.
Compromises leave both sides feeling compromised. If you want to live in San Francisco and I want to live in New York, settling in Kansas City will leave us both unhappy. While occasional problems do lend themselves to a meet-in-the-middle or split-the-difference compromise solution, compromise in most instances is a lose-lose strategy.
Compromises are problematic as well for decisions between two sides of yourself, like between what you feel you should do and what you really want. If you love two different potential partners, taking have of one and half of the other surely will not work.
By contrast, win-win collaborative conflict resolution leaves all participants feeling great. Skills for finding win-win solutions to differences enable folks to emerge from disagreements with both partners feeling like the agreed-upon plan of action is as at least as good and often even better than what they initially thought they wanted to do. That's true for conflicts at home, and for resolving differences in work situations as well.
Here's a quick win-win problem-solving example.
Janie phones Bill just before leaving work to say that she wants to go out for supper. Bill wants to stay home. Oops. They are facing a conflict. A problem to solve. A situation in which they seem to want topposite solutions.
Instead of engaging or a tug of war, or either of them caving in to the other, Janie and Bill each put their underlying concerns on the table. Janie says that she has been working long hours and feels too exhausted to cook. She also has a yen for lush green salad with lots of fixings, and their refrigerator is empty. Bill wants to watch his favorite team on TV and none of the restaurants they like have a TV screen. Besides, salads leave him hungry.
Bill then proposes a win-win solution idea, a win-win plan of action that he hopes works for both of them. "How about if I stop at the grocery store on the way home, the one with a big salad bar, and pick up big salads for us to eat together when I get home? I'll add a hearty soup for me, a bread we can warm in the oven, and a few fried chicken legs. I'm glad to clean up the kitchen after supper too; I can watch the TV from the sink."
Bill's plan was responsive to all his concerns, and to all the concerns of his wife as well.
What's the secret to finding win-win solutions?
Rather than insisting from the outset on your initial solution or suggested plan of action, clarify both your and your partner's underlying concerns and design a solution that satisfies these.
The hardest part is to notice when to use win-win solution-building. Notice any time you feel a tug of war emerging, that is, any time that each of you is pulling for a different plan of action. Then the secret trick is to switch immediately from arguing in favor or against particular action plans to verbalizing each of your underlying concerns.
Once the two of you have succeeded in generating a full list of all of your underlying concerns, generating win-win solutions can be creative and fun.
Use the Worksheet below to guide you to solutions that please you both. For further help, check out PowerOfTwoMarriage.com. Also, remember that this same workshop can be useful for fostering win-win solution-building for your solo inner conflicts.
Circle back one more time: have all the concerns been responded to in the plan of action? Add further details to the plan as needed.
In sum, WIN-WIN means that the plan of action has elements responsive to all of the concerns of both of you. While neither of you may have "gotten your way" with regard to you initial solution ideas, both of you will have succeeded in getting what you wanted!