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October 1, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Getting what you want by being nice and tough, the secrets of Win-Win

In the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective people in the section on think win-win.  Covey boils down win-win to the following statement, and I am paraphrasing.
“You have to be nice and tough.”
In other words you have to have the maturity to deal with others in such a way that is courteous and respectful.  But at the same time you have to be confident in your convictions that you are right, that the other person has come by their opinion honestly and that there is enough for everyone.   You are not a doormat, but at the same time you are not going to ride roughshod over the other party, and you aren’t going to allow them to ride roughshod over you either.
Your ability to do this is going to depend directly on how much you’ve developed yourself.  Are you being proactive?  Do you know yourself and your mission? Are you managing yourself in such a way that you are fulfilling your mission.  Do you know your companies mission?  Do you know the other party’s objective? The other two are particularly relevant in business, but can also be applied to family and other relational situations.  There are x practices that are vital to carrying this out.
Seek to Understand
Again, going back to the Seven Habits, you must seek to understand the other person and what there needs are.  If you are angling for a companies or persons business you need to understand what they are looking to accomplish.  In the negotiation process, you need to understand what their concerns are.  In a family situation this is vital as well.  What are you children trying to get by acting out?  Or what is your teenager looking to do with the car?  Listening Empathetically and asking the right open and close ended questions will help you demonstrate to the other party that you are concerned with them and their interests, and not just just looking to sell them something or impose a particular behavior.  Restating to them what you’ve heard and getting feedback that you have heard them correctly is absolutely vital.  It is like giving that person psychological air.  Once you create that connection, generally, you have permission to speak.
Then Seek to be Understood
After you’ve made it clear that you understand them, and that you are ready and willing to meet their needs and they’ve given you permission to speak.  Outline your position clearly.  Invite them to do the same thing you did for them.  To ask clarifying questions.  Also get feedback from them to make sure they’ve understood you properly.  Remember, communication is a two way street.  Even though you are taking some extra steps, the other party still has the responsibility to make sure they’ve understood you as well.
Now the process may not always work because the other party you are dealing with may lack maturity.  In most situations, though after you’ve made a through effort to hear them, and they make the effort to hear you, you can come to a win-win solution.  The possibilities are endless.  Perhaps nothing comes of the negotiation, but you see something further down the road.  Perhaps you come up with an even better solution that more money is made over the long term for both companies.  Perhaps you work out an agreement with your teenager in regards to car usage that you get to be chauffeured around as part of the agreement for them using the car most of the time.
Provided you’ve laid the ground work in personal character, you will be able to use these items to get what you want out of life.  And it sure beats the hell out of being a bully or a doormat.

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