For the fourth Week around, Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is our companion for wisdom and developping our powerful self. Without further delay, let’s dive in this week’s habit, I really love this one.
Habit 4 : Think Win – Win
How often do we find ourselves in the middle of fights for power ? It can be with our colleagues, our boss, our Partner, our children our friends, family, the bus driver, etc. We want to be right at any cost, never mind the amount of Energy we spend in doing so.
It’s good to have convictions and to present your aguments for what you think is best, just, or right, but when it comes to having healthy relationships, sometimes it’s better to give up on being right in order to save the Relationship.
To do so, we can ask ourselves, « how important is it to me to be right ? How is my fighting for this going to affect my Relationship with this person ? Am I willing to take the risk of ruining what we have ? » Not only does this help us pause and think, but it also forces us to communicate and find an agreement, a solution which is going to satisfy both parts. We are invited to cooperate instead of competing with one another. Most of the time, finding a win – win solution is about agreeing to disagree, that’s fine.
Reaching a win – win response is based on two things :
Many of us lack communication skills, we are hurtful without wanting to. Just because we blame instead of exposing. Let’s say your mother has Something to reproach you, I will suggest different ways of putting the claim, you will tell me which one you would prefer to hear, how you feel, and what you want to do about it.
Mother (almost screaming and pointing the finger) : I’m fed up with Always having to clean after you. I’ve already told you how much I hate it, but you never listen to me. I’m not your cleaning lady, ok ? Next time I find any of your stuff, I’ll throw it in the garbage !
Mother (sitting in front of you after asking you to come next to her. Looking into your eyes and maintaining eye contact, even touching your arm) : Look, I’m annoyed when I see clothes, shoes, bags, rubish on the floor, because I like our home to be clean and tidy. I have the feeling that my only job in this house is to clean after everybody else. I would be really happy if you could help me reach this goal by cleaning after using Something, and putting your dirty clothes in the washing closet.
In the first option (the majority of people talk like that), there’s a lot of agression, accusations, the use of « you« , terms of generalities such as « Always, never« , and there’s threathening, « next time … I’ll do this and that. » The person hearing this wants to fight back, to justify themselves and can be hurt by the tone and the finger pointing. Nobody likes to be treated like that because it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. All you can reply to this is « that’s not true, I Don’t Always leave dirt behind me. And you Don’t need to scream, I’m not the only one leaving my stuff on the floor. If you touch my stuff … aaarrr.«
On the contrary, I Don’t know if you will agree with me, in the second option, the person wants to help, they can be empathic because the complaint is focussed on how the mother feels, and she offers ways to solve the problem, what’s more, she includes the other in her team. The person hearing this doesn’t feel rejected, their self respect is whole and they know how to fix their behaviour. The use of « you » is not accusatory in this example compared to the other one. The reply to this type of complaint could be « I’m so sorry mom, I didn’t realize you feel this way. I will be more careful not to leave my stuff everywhere.«
If you want to be listened to you need to clearly speak about your feelings, and tell the person how they can stop the behaviour that is bothering you. Most of the time they Don’t even know exactly what you are talking about. The technique is called NVC (nonviolent communication) and was developped by Marshall B. Rosenberg, you can check it out. I think everybody should learn how to communicate from an early age, it would solve so many problems.
The image was borrowed here.
So, if you want to find win – win solutions, you need to learn efficient ways of communicating so that you make your adversary an ally instead. The other aspect of win – win solution is respect.
This means that you consider the other person to be as important as yourself, and treat them equally and as you would like to be treated in return. You can convey respect through your actions, but mostly by the way you talk to people. Here again, developping our communication skills is a must do.
Respect also means that you accetp the others to be different, to have other points of view, which are also practicable and worthy, nobody owns the Truth. I prefer respect to tolerance, because to tolerate means that you consider yourself Superior to the others and accept them despite that. No. Respect means, I’m not Superior to you, we are equal and our views are equivalent.
Accepting to give up on having the last word is an exercise for our spirit, it helps us moderate our ego which often has the tendency to come in between us and those we cherish the most. The work place is the battlefield for egos. I’ve learned a lot to let go of pride, of my need to prove that I know. I regularly have good ideas, and I’m very strong at defending my positions. But I have learned that other ideas are great too, and by adopting the others’ opinions or ideas, I learn new ways of doing. I work on myself, on my ability to be humble and I allow someone else, who is less strong than me in defending their ideas, to get to prove their Worth as well. A trully win – win outcome !
Let me know what this triggers in you. If you find this informative and helpful, feel free to share it with someone else who might benefit from it.
Let’s take care of ourselves.
See you around !