How to Have Win-Win Even When the Other Side Refuses

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Reading time: 2 min.

You can negotiate to a win-win result even if the other side is not committed to win-win.

When you negotiate for win-win, you make clear the outcomes both sides want to see. The opposite of a win-win negotiation is one based on stands. A stand in a salary negotiation might be, “I must make $120K.” A win-win outcome for that salary negotiation might be, “I want to feel well paid, meet my current needs, and to grow my retirement funds in line with my long-term plan.”

Once you have made clear your desired outcomes, ask the other side what are their desired outcomes. If they spell out their desired outcomes, you are negotiating for win-win. Proceed to brainstorming how to generate both sets of desired outcomes. Chances are you’ll arrive at a better solution together than either side could have generated alone.

If, instead, they repeat their stand, then say, “Thank you. That may become the solution we agree upon to generate my (our) desired outcomes and yours. There may be even better solutions. We can only find the best solutions when we know what your desired outcomes are. Would you be willing to say what you believe your proposed solution (i.e. their stand) will do for you? What happens if we don’t choose your proposed solution?”

If you refuse to proceed until they describe what makes a win for them, you can never fall back into win-lose (“I overpower”) or lose-win (“I capitulate”).


In your corner,


Effectiveness Habit #8: Be Explicitly Win-Win

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I had said that there are now three new effectiveness habits to go with the original seven. Here is first of those three, Effectiveness Habit #8: Be Explicitly Win-Win.

Being win-win is a personal commitment to act in a way that is not only laudable, it helps you be very effective. “I Win and you lose” or “I lose and you win” can work but not for very long. Whoever is losing will eventually find a way to actively or passively pull back, resist, delay, or sabotage. Not effective or efficient at all.

“Win-win” is short for “you win and I win otherwise we’ll choose not to play.” If we cannot come up with a solution that works for you and for me–if one of us would lose–we’ll stop.

Here is how to Be Explicitly Win-Win. For every important conversation with anyone who matters to your success,

  1. Overtly state your intent to go for win-win. We regularly misjudge others’ intents and they misjudge ours. So make it very clear. Build the habit to clearly and regularly state that your are committed to win-win-or-don’t-play.
  2. Learn what is a win for the other(s). Even if you tell them you are committed to win-win, people can be initially suspicious. Start, then, by asking about what would make a win for them. What are their interests? What is true now in their life or business and what do they want to be true in the future? Why do they want this? Ignore your and their opinions about how it should be done. Confirm your understanding by telling them what you thought you heard them to mean.
  3. Share what makes a win for you. Tell them what is true now for you, what you want want to be true, and why. (Not how you think it should be done.)
  4. Reaffirm your commitment. Repeat your intent to go for win-win-or-not-play.
  5. Proceed with this agreement in mind. Now continue your work together as you would have before. Keep nearby this new understanding of what makes a win for each other. Work towards mutual wins.


In your corner,


Ignite Others’

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, We=All Who Matter
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What if the only way to get anyone to do anything was to show them how doing what you suggest generates the exact wins they want for themselves?

Of course, it is not the only way. You can push, plea, demand, “guilt,” ask, tell, teach, and expect people to do stuff. Those all work as long as you are willing to keep doing them, keep applying that external pressure.

If you’d rather have something more effective and self-sustaining, choose the “generate wins” option above. It goes beyond superficial and temporary change and ignites people’s internal motivation.


In your corner,



PS: “Generating wins” is not that hard at all. Here’s the first step: Learn what would make a win for them.

3 New Habits for Back-to-School

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How are you doing with the Effectiveness Habits and building your lists?

Back-to-school time is a good time to refocus on them. And it’s a good time for me to introduce three new habits.

The original seven Effectiveness Habits are:

1 Get it Out of Your Head Write down every current and potential task so your mind won’t have to remember everything.
2 Feel Good. Then Act. When you pause to feel better, your actions and the results you want come with much more ease.
3 MOD It Transform your Habit #1 mass of tasks, ideas, and potential tasks into Meaningful Outcomes and Doables.
4 Act Naturally Neither pushing nor avoiding, scan your list of doables to choose the very best thing to do.
5 Know Why Know the big picture and know why that big picture is compelling so you can put daily work into a meaningful context.
6 Refresh Refresh your system of lists daily and weekly so it stays reliable and so you continue to feel in charge.
7 Cultivate Access to You Dedicate regular time to discovering and accessing your deeper, who-you-really-are self for ease.

Continue to use these in good health!

Now let’s look at the three new habits. When I teach the Effectiveness Habits to individuals and companies, people raise the same set of issues:

  • I want to be helpful but I can’t get my own work done. 
  • I seem to spend all my time in meetings, responding to other people’s emergencies, and waiting for people to finish what I asked them for. 
  • How do I maintain my own effectiveness when other people derail me?

We address these common issues with three new habits. Listed below, I’ll publish more detail about each in subsequent posts.

8 Be Explicitly Win-Win Overtly state your intent to go for win-win. Learn what is a win for the other(s) and share what is a win for you.
9 Delegate and Negotiate Clearly Consistently seek clarity about who is doing what by when. Renegotiate when things go off the rails.
10 Make Meetings Meaningful Focus meeting conversations for effectiveness. Design meetings so the right topics are covered by the right people at the right time.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about these!


In your corner,



Convince Anyone

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, What=Compelling Focus
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Want to convince someone to do something that–so far–they have not done?

You can.

Just show the other person how your idea is an absolute win for them (and for you). Of course, you’ll have to start by understanding what makes a win for them.

Tricky? Takes a long time? Perhaps. And I know you can pull it off ; it will be so worth it.


In your corner,


PS: this works for you and your spouse, children (most any age), employees, boss, prospects, customers, friends, parents, other family members, politicians, etc. Give it shot.

Leading Without All The Effort

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Success, Sweetspot, We=All Who Matter
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Last night, my wife hosted a small meeting at our house. The group was gathered to plan an important, impactful event. My role was logistics: help with refreshments, get the kids to bed, etc.

At the end of the evening, the group’s leader thanked me. In fact, I should have thanked him. I got to be part of something exciting where talented and passionate people were working in their SweetSpots. I wanted to help.

The usual ways of getting people to do stuff are full of struggle. The incentives, cajoling, pleas, threats, and politics feel crappy to others and exhaust you. Lose-lose.

When you operate from your SweetSpot, everyone knows it. And the people who matter most to you will want to participate–at least in part–because it feels good. You will be drawing them into their own SweetSpots. And it will feel almost effortless to you. Win-win.

Yeah, I like the second option better, too.


In your corner,


PS: By the way, we are not talking about charisma. A charismatic leader can be in her SweetSpot…or can be trying to cajole, plea, motivate with excitement. You can feel the difference.

Mistakes We Make Trying to Get Others to Act or Change

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Success requires that we become good at influencing others to act or change. So we get good at teaching, asking, telling, directing, demanding, coaching, offering, trading, and selling.

And we often make three big…and unwitting…mistakes when we try to get others to act or change.

The things we usually forget to do and must get good at are

  1. Setting the stage. Describe the situation–the context–and what you hope to achieve.
  2. Asking permission. Ask if the other person is willing to have this conversation, meeting, etc. If they say they are, agree on a time to have the conversation (even immediately). If they say they are not, then you face a new conversation about what’s preventing them. Have that conversation then come back to this one.
  3. Establishing the grounds for win-win. Ask the other person what qualities and results (not process or solution) they are interested in seeing in this situation. Then describe your desired qualities and results (not process or solution).

Forget these steps and you will encounter defense and resistance. Remember these steps (I suggest you make a habit of it) and others will be much more ready, willing, and able to act or change.


In your corner,



P.S. Once you have used these steps to start a conversation, you can continue by asking, telling, teaching, etc

P.P.S. You can use this approach with your boss, employee, child, parent, friend, partner, peer, etc.

The We Lens and Win-Win

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Success for you and your organization is simple using  The Four Lenses of Success: What, We, Can, and Do. Let’s explore the “We” lens.

Help on the Journey

You can never, never, ever create the success you want by yourself.  Though you absolutely get to call it your success, you always need help from those around you. The people who matter to your success may be clients, peers, bosses, investors, employees, friends, family members, vendors, politicians, or members of the press. Use the We lens to focus on and create win-win relationships with each of them.

About Win-Win

We’ll discuss the details of win-win in future posts. For now, here are some highlights.

  • Win-win is more than a quid pro quo. It is not, “I scratched your back so now you scratch mine.” It is not about tallying who has done which favors for whom.
  • It is a habit that starts with a commitment: “I am committed equally to your success and to mine.”
  • “Win-win” is short for “you win and I win otherwise we’ll choose not to play.” If we cannot come up with a solution that works for you and for me–if one of us would lose–we’ll stop.
  • As we’ll see in a future post, only one side need make the commitment to win-win for it to work.
  • Win-win also applies to situations involving multiple parties and complex topics.
  • There are many other names for win-win. “The Golden Rule” and “Give to Others What You Need Most” are two.

Where could you use more win-win? Look for places where you or someone who matters is losing.

Questions? Love to hear ’em and respond below.


To your continued success,