What’s on your mind before you make a new networking connection, negotiate a deal, or entertain ways of working with someone? If you’re like most folks, you’re thinking about what you want and how to get it. It may not surprise you that the folks you’re meeting with are thinking the same thing. You’re both scheming how to gain as much as you can from one another. Is that any way to build a relationship?
There are three fundamental flaws with this thinking:
- Can trust be established if everyone’s obsessed with their own needs?
- Can real communication take place when folks take turns talking — but nobody’s listening?
- Can a relationship last if folks are willing to forfeit a long-term relationship for a short-term gain?
When everyone tries to gain the upper hand, we all lose — hands down.
Winning doesn’t have to be at someone’s expense. Instead of focusing on what you want, focus on how much you can accomplish together. In many cases you’ll gain more jointly than you could alone.
Win-win is cooperative, not competitive.
Their Best Interests Are in Your Best Interest
You may be thinking, “If I don’t advocate for myself, who will?” or “What happens if I focus on other people’s needs and they don’t care about mine?” The answer is simple. Rather than focusing solely on your needs, identify opportunities where you can mutually benefit. In other words, think win-win rather than winner-take-all.
The benefits of creating a win-win strategy are significant. When you have a self-serving mentality, you waste time posturing and game-playing, which ultimately leads to mistrust. Conversely, when you and a colleague (or organization) have a vested interest in achieving a common goal, you’ll work as a team. Every time you do something to benefit your teammate, you’re moving one-step closer to your goal. In all likelihood, they’ll reciprocate in kind, which will strengthen the relationship even more. Over time, this synergy of mutual benefit will take on a life of its own — small wins will create an incentive to explore new opportunities together. How much is that worth? Everything!
How to Create a Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Win-win relationships are as much a mindset as an activity. Here are 12 guiding principles to consider:
Change your outlook. Shift your mindset from me to we — selfish to selfless.
Listen before you speak. Don’t assume you know what people want. Make it your business to find out. Furthermore, even though you might not always agree, be respectful.
Pinpoint areas of mutual interest. Identify common goals and areas of synergy.
Select opportunities where everyone benefits. Opportunities don’t have to be large. Small wins help to build momentum while you pursue long-term goals.
Focus on the journey as well as the destination. Fight the tendency to focus solely on results. First, get to know each other and build a trusting relationship — transparency, honesty, and respect are key.
Secure buy-in. Never force your preferences on others. Work together to create commitment.
Abide by the “shoe on the other foot” rule. Put yourself in each other’s shoes to ensure that you’re being fair and equitable. Ask yourself whether you’d be happy to trade places with them.
Make sure everyone benefits. If the benefits of the relationship become too lopsided, consider adjustments or changing course.
Don’t keep score. There will be periods when benefits are not equal, but over a long term, things work out. Will it come out evenly? Probably not. But this isn’t a competition.
Keep others in line. If other people are involved in the relationship, make sure they embrace your win-win philosophy or they may damage it.
Eliminate red tape. When two organizations are involved, never allow bureaucratic red tape to stifle progress.
Think long term. Never win at the expense of the relationship.
Do not confuse a transaction with a relationship.
If I asked you to define a great leader would you point to one person or pick and choose character traits from several outstanding people? My guess is you’d select individual qualities from the best of the best — since no one’s perfect. That’s what synergy offers. You combine the best of what you offer with the very best of another individual or organization to achieve mutual gain. The fact is, you may not be able to win them all, but with an awesome formula like this, you’ll win lot. Win-win is a no-lose opportunity.
Are You Thinking Win-Win Relationship?
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