Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Think Win-Win

Some people think saying no is difficult and saying yes is easy. However, there are situations when we find ourselves often saying no. Take for example a parent responding to a child's requests. Another example that comes to mind is when we are in the process of negotiating for purchase, sale etc. In such situations, we find it difficult to come to an agreement. Only weak negotiators say yes easily. Most smart ones will try to extract their pound of flesh before grudgingly saying yes.

I read an interesting book called "Getting to Yes" a few years ago. The author describes the process of arriving at an agreement. He says that unless we want an aimless and endless discussion, we must strive to conclude the deal. My big take away from the book is that we should think win-win. If we are only thinking of our interests, we would find it difficult to strike deals. We also would have a lot of people with grouses against us.

Even as we prepare for a discussion, we should consider what the other party's reasonable expectations could be in addition to listing out our requirements. In our minds, we should think of a position which would be acceptable to both parties. When we are discussing each others demands, we should also probe / disclose possible reasons for our respective expectations. When we know why someone needs something, we can think of alternate ideas to fulfill the same.

I read a story of a girl and her brother who arrived home famished and both claimed a single apple that was in the fridge. In normal circumstances, they would have ended up sharing half an apple each. But when they discussed their requirements, it turned out that the girl only wanted the skin to bake a pie and the boy only wanted the flesh to make a milk shake. With this discovery, they both got what they wanted. Otherwise, they would have come to a sub-optimal solution.

When we think win-win, we are thinking solutions. Instead of being stuck in positions and appearing adamant, we are taking a step forward and looking positive. Everyone is happy with the outcome. Our gains and victories need not come with a loss or pain to others.


anupama said...

dear vish,
another lovely post from is all about getting connected rightly and communicate smartly.i had read a beautiful book on How To is really good teaching us how to win discussions n arguements.
there is another article-How to get what you want out of life.
you are doing a noble job of making this world better to live in by instilling values.
hearty congrats,vish!

Anonymous said...

It all depends on what situation we are at that time and what we want to achieve.If you value a relationship one may opt for a Lose-Win situation to keep peace,if in a competition one may opt for a Win-Lose situation.We get a Win-Win situation only when we know what each others wants are and the situation is mutually acceptable to us.


Avin said...

It feels so good to come back to your blog after an hiatus.Your posts are full of positive energy and rejuvenates an exhausted mind.
As one of the commentators said earlier, you definitely are definitely making this world a better place to live in :)

shri ramesh sadasivam said...

Win-Win is a very good policy.

But it applies only when both sides are trying to be reasonable.

For eg., you take Lord Rama's fight with Ravan or Krishna's decision for kurukshetra.

Only thing we can do is, we need to take care that our expectations are genuine.

KParthasarathi said...

I am in agreement with Sri.Ramesh Sadasivam that outcomes of negotiations would be fair only if both sides are reasonable.

Vishwanath Seshadri said...

Thank you all for your comments. I have received several comments by mail as well.

Based on some of the comments, I feel that the concept of win-win is, perhaps, not well explained by me and therefore I seek to clarify further.

The first premise we should have in mind is that we are negotiating with someone and seek to arrive at a solution that is aagreeable to both sides. Therefore, this concept will not work, for instance between two strangers who have no connection / relation.

I agree with some of you that both sides have to be reasonable - otherwise there is no 'negotiation' and 'agreement' and no 'win-win'. I am not suggesting that there should be compromise or dilution of stance. Win-win is all about how we approach an issue. Is it the "my-way-or-the-highway" type or "what-is-the-best-solution" approach ?

I am suggesting a positive yet firm approach if we have settle issues. Too often people think that firmness is becoming closed in mind. We can be firm and yet be open for solutions. In fact, this is what Lord Krishna and Lord Rama respectively tried before the inevitable war.

Sama, Dana, Dhand, Bhed are the suggested methods to resolve conflicts which stand for conciliation, donation, punishment and differentiation respectively. If all four do not work, then calling off the negotiation / discussion is justified.

We should also not presume that we always have options. Many times, we are in a weaker position and yet have to negotiate and offer a solution that meets expectations of both sides. Take for example the position of Vasudeva (father of Krishna) whose wife was about to be killed by Kamsa. Vasudeva could not afford to walk away from the scene - he offered a compromise which met his as well as Kamsa's expectations and saved his wife.

Likewise, even if we are in a stronger position, we should still think win-win. Thinking win-lose is not the right approach in the long term. The idea is to seek a solution which works for both sides. Otherwise, the "loser" will nurse a wound and wait for an opportunity to turn the tables. For example, if we are dealing with our child - it is easy to say no and put our foot down. If we do that, we may be creating a rebel in the child. However, if we handle the situation well, it will take care of immediate as well as future.

Trust this clarifies.



shri ramesh sadasivam said...

Dear Vish,

This explanation of yours is excellent and apt.

The point about whether we are in a weaker position or in a stronger position adds more light to the point.

Win-win is the basic step. We must never forget that. After which, based on the other party's moves we can decide the course of action.

In your post as well as in K.P sir's and my comments we had discussed only one side of it.

After this explanation of your's, I think the post is complete.

Nice to discuss like this.

We learn from each other.