In baseball, football, soccer, someone wins and someone loses. Zero sum games are a way of life in our society.  Zero sum games are based on win-lose rules.  Someone wins at someone else’s expense.

The win-lose situations pervade our culture.  Our courts are based on an adversary system. Political parties strive to win elections.

Win-lose competitions are fun – very fun, especially if you are the winner.  They present us with a challenge.  As a kid, I hated losing any sporting event or competition I participated in. Frankly, we would compete just as hard for positions even on the same team.

As adults, we may be on the same track, swim, golf or tennis team and still compete to win.  In an orchestra, they compete for 1st chair though playing beautifully together.

In organizations, however, where you need to be part of the same team, competition can be unhealthy, destructive and erode trust.  Consider its ill-gotten effects.

  • It poisons interpersonal relationships.
  • It destroys organizational effectiveness.
  • It diverts time and energy.
  • It destroys good will.
  • It provokes anger, resentment and retaliation.

In an organization, win-lose eventually becomes lose-lose and impacts just about every aspect of the company, including quality, customer service, revenues and profits.   But we are stronger for the challenge.  How do we do both: compete and cooperate simultaneously?  We might compete initially but at some point to be successful, the project requires us to cooperate.

Here are 10 skills (which can be learned and developed) that will lead to a Win-Win environment in your business and personal relationships:

  1. Listen empathetically
  2. Find out what is important to others
  3. Agree on clear and common goals
  4. Avoid absolute statements
  5. Involve others who are affected
  6. Make consensus or collaborative decisions
  7. Test trade-offs and compromises for agreement
  8. Look for similarities and areas of commonality
  9. Avoid potential win-lose situations or strategies
  10. Think “Our Problem”, not “My Problem” or “Your Problem

Considering the organization’s culture, another huge impact is on trust. For the purposes of this article, let’s use the following definition for trust: “Confidence in your relationship with others.”

The Positive/Negative Risk Cycle.

All of us have felt vulnerable before sharing an idea or an opinion about something – especially when it might contradict others’ points of view.  So let’s suppose you take a risk: share and open yourself up to a friend or colleague.  When he/she responds with respect, what happens to your relationship? It is strengthened, and your mutual confidence and trust grow.  Your willingness to share more and to take more risks goes up, too – right?

What happens if you “open up” – expose your vulnerabilities – one-day and your friend or colleague does not treat you with respect, and in fact teases you, and tells other people about it? Your confidence will go down and your relationship is weakened.  Will you want to share again? Will you take the risk of sharing a different idea?

Do you see how building trust or not having trust in the workplace could impact the success of your company or department?  In fact, building trust is absolutely critical to create an environment where high performance can grow.

If you want to strengthen trust, competition and creating cooperation among team or department members, click here to learn about one of our high performance programs.