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Go for the win-win solutioncomment (0)

February 3, 2011

By Jean Roberson

I can feel it when it happens. My jaw tenses up. I feel nervous and start getting warmer. It’s the moment my mind makes the switch from discussing an issue to fighting for my side.  

This is especially true if I have put a lot of thought into my opinion. The longer I have thought about and dealt with an issue, the more vehemently I defend my position.

However, somewhere along the way, I lose sight of my opinion and why I believe it is correct, and I begin to focus on winning the debate. Whether it’s at work or home, I want to win. This means, in essence, that I want the other person to lose.

Does that happen to you? You begin a discussion based on what you believe is the right course of action, but you continue it based on your motivation to win. I win. You lose.

While winning under these circumstances can be gratifying, it does defeat us ultimately. Think of the model laid out for us in the Scriptures. Jesus taught a way of self-sacrifice and servant leadership. Paul worked to persuade people, but he did not force the issues.  

Practically speaking, there are significant consequences to operating from a win/lose mentality. First it creates a division in the relationship. While the winner feels victorious and validated, the loser feels distant and unappreciated. This usually results in a lack of communication and respect for the other person.  

Second, and more importantly, it means that some problems have not been addressed. Remember the other person has very real concerns. There are reasons that he or she defended the other position. In an effort to win, those reasons can be disregarded and left unaddressed, which can lead to real problems.

We have gotten our way in that particular circumstance, but we also have caused a person to seek distance from us and not taken the time to address very real concerns. So problems may be left to fester and lie under the surface. It’s a pattern of this type of communication at home and in the workplace that leads to serious breakdowns.

Perhaps, instead, when faced with a conflict, the question to ask is “How can we both leave this conversation as winners?” Instead of a win-lose argument, seek the win-win approach. All concerns get addressed and both parties leave feeling validated. Both may have to give some but both gain some.  

A Takeaway Value …
When you find yourself in a conflict, seek a win-win solution.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Jean Roberson, MSW, LCSW, is a ministry consultant for national Woman’s Missionary Union. She serves as team leader for the adult team and director of Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps and International Initiatives.

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