Six Steps to a Win-Win Result

If your work or personal life is anything like mine there will be conflicts.  I remember one time as young boy in Australia watching my parents in a heated argument.  I started crying and ran off to my bedroom.  A few moments later my mother came into the room and asked me what was the matter.  “You’re going to get divorced,” I said.  “My friend’s parents are divorced and he said it’s because they argued all the time.”

My mother proceeded to tell me that they were not getting divorced and that argument are a natural part of a marriage.  Thirty years later they are still happily married and I believe it to be true.

So what’s the secret?  Well, I know that conflict is a natural part of two people being together, whether you’re talking about home or work.  But it doesn’t have to end in tears.  Here’s a six step process to finding a win-win solution for everyone.

Step 1. Preserve the Relationship

This is the most important aspect.  If you go into a situation with the relationship foremost in your consciousness then you’ll be taking in the right attitude.  This will almost force you to look for a win-win opportunity.  Also recognise that you are involved in every conflict you have, so be conscious of how you approach conflict and how you affect others.  Perhaps look at previous conflicts you’ve had and determine your approach to become aware of what you could change or modify if the results you generate are not ideal.

Step 2. Gather Information

If you’re prepared, you have the best shot at creating a successful outcome.  Determine the needs and wants of all parties. Find out what are the underlying interests, needs and concerns. Ask for the other person’s viewpoint and respect their opinion, because you’ll need their cooperation to solve the problem. After all that analysis and thinking, come prepared with different options for outcomes.  Explore best case, worst case and middle of the road options.

Step 3. Create a Safe Environment

This is key if you are to facilitate the right kind of discussion.  Make the physical environment safe, by meeting on neutral territory. Agree on when you will meet and how much time is available. Conflict is best handled face to face because it allows for full expression and it generally makes people feel more comfortable.  Start by showing empathy – that you understand the situation from your own personal experience.

Step 4. Clearly Define and Agree on the Issue

Often times when we are involved in a conflict, the argument seems to put more distance between us and make our ideas seem further apart.  To take emotion out of the moment, start by agreeing on a statement of the issue using simple and factual terms.  You won’t be able to agree on a solution without an agreement on the problem!  If the situation is large or complex, look for ways to break it down into smaller chunks to deal with one issue at a time. Make sure you are dealing with the facts.

Step 5. Brainstorm Possible Solutions

Now you get into looking for solutions.  Rather than being opposed, get on the same side by finding and establishing similarities and common goals.  However you choose to brainstorm ideas, focus on the future, talk about what is to be done and tackle the problem jointly. Come up with options and demonstrate a willingness to cooperate.

Step 6. Negotiate a Solution

Make sure everyone involved leaves the situation feeling they have won.  Agree to future action steps and responsibilities, complete with time lines and how success will be measured.  Remember that the focus is to maintain relationships, so look for the best for everyone and most importantly… enjoy the process!  Life is too short.

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This entry was posted in Be Inspired, Business Coaching, Coaching, Communication, Leadership, Personal Coaching and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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