Habit 4 Think Win-Win is the first habit of interpersonal leadership. We seek satisfaction and mutual benefits in human interactions that form the foundation for effective and long-term relationships.
Highly effective people choose a higher way to find or create plenty with a win-win frame of mind and heart. Stephen Covey explains Win-Win this way:
“Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a win-win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win-win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others. Win-win is a belief in the Third Alternative. It’s not your way or my way; it’s a better way, a higher way.”
We are social and communicative people but our culture, social media and recently the Covid pandemic, puts us all in our little boxes, each of us more alone. Another essential point of interacting and influencing one another’s experiences is it helps gives us our place back in the crowd.
The Emotional Bank Account
Interdependence, according to Wikipedia, is “the process by which interacting people influence one another’s experiences.” Research suggests that a baby’s smile at six to eight weeks age interacts with us to create happiness. In eight to twelve months, these anticipatory smiles reflect their positive emotions.
As we live, we begin to discover what helps in life and what hurts and that our deep beliefs drive our behavior. Through which, we may even find some good people hidden below their adopted scripts.
We like them because they are good or decent, and they take risks or make sacrifices for someone else. Through them, we see there is some moral compass in the world, and we too could travel by that compass if we choose to do so.
This care and consideration for others create enduring relationships and synergies in the process. Trust is essential for good relationships and must be present for interdependence to evolve.
Dr. Covey uses the Emotional Bank Account as a metaphor to describe how to build trust. We can build it with deposits of courtesy, kindness, honesty, keeping commitments, and things like that. Or, we can withdraw trust with discourtesy, disrespect, overreacting, ignoring, betrayal, etc.
The Six Major Deposits for Building Trust
- Seek to understand the individual to make valid deposits. We are all different, and what is important to one may not be to another.
- Attend to the little things: kindness and courtesies are essential; people are sensitive even if they show tough exteriors.
- Keep commitments and promises; because these are significant deposits, and breaking them are substantial withdrawals.
- Clarify expectations: the root of most relationship difficulties is conflicting or ambiguous expectations.
- Show personal integrity: keep promises, fulfill expectations, honesty, loyalty are the basis of many deposits.
- Apologize with sincerity when you make a withdrawal: I was wrong, it was unkind of me, I showed no respect, and I’m deeply sorry.
When we make unconditional deposits into the Emotional Bank Account, we encourage others to do the same. We still keep our standards, but we love, regardless.
The problem with attaching strings is it places people in a defensive position. They aren’t independent if they have to prove themselves or adjust to our conditions.
Without conditions, it helps them feel safe and validated, and we affirm their worth. It is easier for them to live with cooperation, contribution, self-discipline, and integrity. They have the freedom to act and discover the best they can be and find their authentic selves.
The Paradigms of Interaction
Dr. Covey identified six paradigms of human interactions:
- Win-Win: Both people win; it’s not your way or my way; it’s a better and higher way found through cooperation.
- Win-Lose: “I Win, you lose.” These people use an authoritarian approach; and are prone to use position, power, credential, anything to get their way.
- Lose-Win: “I lose; you win.” These people are quick to please or appease and seek strength from popularity or acceptance.
- Lose-Lose: Both people lose; when two determined, stubborn, egotistical individuals interact, both will lose.
- Win: They don’t want someone else to lose, but they want to get their way. The others need to secure their needs because we are all on our own.
- Win-Win or No Deal: Both mutually agree to disagree if a Win-Win is not found,
Whatever your station in life, when you step from independence into interdependence, you step into a role of interpersonal leadership.
The first challenge in this new role is convincing others you genuinely believe in Habit 4 Think Win-Win and helping them to learn to think that way too while you build the relationship.
Another challenge is some of the paradigms are viewed as *either* a this *or* that outcome.
And, the paradigms are deeply scripted, situation-dependent, and hidden. For example, a scarcity mindset is at the root of the widely held Win-Lose paradigm. At the outset, the thinking is you will *win*, or you will *lose.* Even those not scripted with Win-Lose realize this is widely held and so may feel it necessary to project strength, even if they don’t feel that way, so as not to be perceived weak.
Some seem to think if you are friendly, you must not be tough. In a conversation with a teenager, who volunteered his time to help students struggling with math problems. He wondered why certain students viewed his willingness to help and his kind efforts as a weakness.
So another challenge with Habit 4 Think Win-Win is the perception of weakness when in reality, it requires courage, consideration, and takes strength.
Overcoming the Challenges
Dr. Covey points out the interrelated nature of the win-win process and the essence of win-win: “You can only achieve win-win solutions with win-win processes — the end and the means are the same.”
Implementing a win-win process leverages this interrelated nature to help you and others become win-win thinkers.
Habits are repeated actions, often unintentional or subconsciously. Whereas, processes are a collection of tasks agreed upon to accomplish a particular end. How intentional you are is the difference between processes and habits.
The challenges are overcome by intentionally using a process until the multiple uses make you better and more experienced, and repetition makes it a habit.
The Win-Win Four Step Process
Covey recommends the following four-step process for those seeking Habit 4 Think Win-Win solutions.
- Consider the other point of view so you can understand and express their needs to them as well as they can to you: separate the person from the problem,
- Identify the key issues and concerns…not the positions, focus on interests and concerns,
- Determine what would create an entirely acceptable solution: discuss the options for mutual gain,
- Identify new options to achieve those results and insist on identifying objective criteria or principles to which both parties can agree.
Three Character Traits Essential for Win-Win
There are three character traits essential to a win-win:
- Integrity: simply the value we place on ourselves maintained through self-awareness and independent will by making meaningful promises and commitments.
- Maturity: the balance between courage and consideration; expressing feelings and convictions with courage and consideration for others.
- Abundance Mentality: the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.
“To go for Win-Win, you not only have to be nice, you have to be courageous.” -Stephen Covey
Abundant Mentality vs. Scarcity Mentality
Most people become deeply scripted in a scarcity mentality. They see one pie that has to be shared, and if someone takes a bigger piece, that leaves less for others. However, they miss that they can bake a bigger pie by working together, and there will be larger pieces to share.
Scarcity thinking is pervasive throughout our everyday lives. We think about; how we don’t complete our to-do list, run out of time, run out of money, things we didn’t do, and what we don’t have. It is a mindset filled with guilt, envy, and desire.
The scarcity mindset is prevalent for two primary reasons. First, humans evolved into seeing scarcity because the resources to survive were in short supply through most of their history. Scarcity (and danger) were constant, and it was the survivors saw want and did what they needed. Second is the present manifestations of commercial advertising and social media algorithms designed to buy products—even products we don’t need.
Consider that the U.S. makes up 4.3% of the [world’s population] and owns 29.9% of the [world wealth]. So the U.S. is, on average, seven times wealthier than the rest of the world! That’s not scarcity; it is abundance, at least here!
On the other hand, the Abundance Mentality flows out of an inner sense of personal worth and security. Life is cooperative with opportunities, blessings abound, and human ingenuity can create solutions and breakthroughs. It is open to possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.
It is still true that scarcity still exists in parts of the world, but that is not the case for most. Certainly not in our culture. In the context of the industrialized world, isn’t the opposite of scarcity really “enough” instead of abundance?
Gratitude Helps Cultivate a Mindset of Abundance
Sure, there are a million things we don’t have. But there are a lot of things that we do. We need to look at it differently and realize we have more than we can imagine.
To change from a mindset of scarcity to abundance, we need an attitude of gratitude. Count the things for which we should be grateful. Let’s not forget the improvements and accomplishments previous generations passed down to us over the centuries.
The feeling of scarcity is an irrational fear deep inside us. In our context, it is not valid, and we have to work to overcome it, achieve, and help others achieve interdependence through Habit 4 Think Win-Win.
“We spend inordinate amounts of time calculating how much we have, want and don’t have, and how much everyone else has, needs and wants…we are often comparing our lives, our marriages, our families, and our communities to unattainable, media-driven versions of perfection, or we’re holding up our reality against our own fictional account of how great someone else has it.” – Brene Brown, Author of “Daring Greatly”
Another benefit of gratitude, is it may be good for your health. Preliminary research find that, grateful people may sleep better, have healthier hearts, and fewer aches and pains.
Give Habit 4 Think Win-Win a Try:
- In an upcoming interaction, commit to maintaining a balance between courage and consideration.
- List what keeps you from applying Habit 4 Think Win-Win and what you can do to eliminate them.
- Also, consider your scripting and how it affects your interactions with other people.
- Find someone who models win-win thinking and learn from their example.
We committed to learn Habit 4 Think Win-Win to become effective, let us now claim our place in the crowd, and commit it to life.
Up Next Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood