We all like to get what we want but sometimes getting what we want in the short term will seriously damage our long-term future. You may win the battle but is it worth losing the war for it?
Human beings are social creatures, our differences make life exciting and with that excitement comes conflict, whether we like it or not conflict is a part of life and dealing with it effectively is essential to winning this game we call life and sometimes that means losing in the short term.
There are five ways to approach conflict, each of them has their place, reliance on just one or two of them will result in a less than happy life. If you want to win the war you must learn to adopt all five approaches and select the most appropriate for the situation. The five approaches are Win/Win, Compromise, Win/Lose, Lose/Win, Lose/Lose.
Win/Win – the best outcome, you should always aspire to this.
Compromise – Only after all avenues for a Win/Win have been explored should this be considered. To compromise nobody wins or loses, both sides get a bit of what they want and give up a bit of what they want.
Win/Lose – You may win the battle but at what cost? If you know that losing this one will have no lasting effects on future relationships with the loser and the win is both morally and legally sound you should go for it but if in doubt look for another solution.
Lose/Win – Sometimes this is the best option, if it’s something that doesn’t mean that much to you, won’t cost you in the long run and means a lot to the other person then it’s a perfectly acceptable outcome and may benefit you in the long run.
Lose/Lose – This is often people cutting their nose to spite their face which is the most undesirable outcome possible and should be avoided at all times, there are times when everybody has to lose something and it’s all about minimising the loss in which case you should always go for the win/win in how much loss you can both take.
In order to reach the final position of Win/Win, Compromise, Win/Lose, Lose/Win or Lose/Lose you first need to communicate. There are five communication styles and most of the time people generally fall into one or two of them, it’s a natural, learned tendency, however, in many cases it’s not the best approach to take.
Collaboration – This often results in a win/win which is the most desirable outcome, it should be considered as the first approach to be used.
Compromise – If you have a tendency to take on the compromise approach first sometimes you’ll win sometimes you’ll lose, often times both sides win and lose, if you have to compromise it means you’re giving up something that you need for the greater good which works some of the time but should not be the first option.
Accommodation – If a win/win can’t be found compromise is not always the best option, for example you know it’s really important for the other person to get what they want and it’s not too much of an inconvenience to you it’s sometimes better just to let it go in order to conserve the relationship. This results in a lose/win for the battle knowing that preserving the relationship serves the greater good.
Avoidance – This should only be used sparingly, avoiding a situation can have dire consequences, however, it has its place. If you find yourself in a conflict sometimes it’s better to avoid a situation to allow all parties to cool off before restarting communication with clear heads.
Competition – This is another strategy that should be used sparingly as it results in the I win you lose scenario or worse still the “if I can’t have it neither can you”, Lose/Lose scenario. Competition is healthy when you may have regional sales teams competing for a prize given to those with the highest sales, it’s also good in emergency situations where decisions need to be made quickly but it has no real advantage anywhere else, unfortunately, this is the style many people adopt as their primary style, this is often counterproductive because it can lead to people doing the bare minimum to keep themselves out of trouble.
To summarise, in any conflict there are five possible outcomes which are win/win, collaborate, win/lose, lose/win and lose/lose. There are five possible approaches that can be adopted in order to achieve said outcome. You can use one or all of them but first you must decide on your desired outcome and make a conscious decision on which approach to take instead of relying on your natural tendencies which will it be effective in all situations.