This is the question that I often ask during Executive Coaching sessions whenever a conflictual situation is being discussed.
Usually, the answer goes like this “But I don’t want them to win, I want to win!” That’s called a zero-sum win; for one person to win, the other one must lose.
The problem with making somebody lose is that it doesn’t build relationships and loyalty. It rather makes them want to take their revenge and make you pay the price and get you to lose next time. In a transactional relationship, you might win a battle, but you end up losing the war.
What if both could win?
This is how to build mutual value, alliance, and true loyalty that we are all seeking to achieve.
But how does it work?
1. Find out what’s important for them.
“Every single day, we are faced with the task of persuading others. And every single day, we face resistance,” Bob Burg
To make them win, you need to know more about their goal and objectives.
- What is instrumental to their success?
- What would they like to achieve?
- What is in their heart?
- What particularly hurt them?
- What do they hope to see?
You can’t help noticing that these points are not necessarily tactical, logical, or even what we can consider as a negotiation. It is a true discovery of what the other person is about. This is important to be able to progress to the next step.
Sometimes, if you are like me, you are not keen to ask a lot of questions. Maybe because you don’t want to bother the other person or simply because you prefer to talk about yourself.
“Self-disclosure is extra rewarding, People were even willing to forgo money in order to talk about themselves.” – Harvard Neuroscientist Diana Tamir
By taking an interest in the other person, we are using empathy. This is one of the most powerful ways of building relationships. Simply said, “You should like people to listen to you, understand you or recognize you. So does everybody else.”
In a study done with medical doctors by Beth Huntington and Nettie Kuhn in 2003, they demonstrated that when using listening skills, empathy and apologies, Doctors were able to reduce the complaints and legal actions of their patients in case of medical errors. As you can see, when you first take a step forward towards the other person, the other person comes towards you.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie
2. Support to them in area(s) of priority
Once you find out about their priorities, you can then offer your support and discuss how you can contribute to their success.
When discussing issues with his team, after thinking only one second, one of my coachees immediately say “this is what I am going to do. I will try doing this,” and started a list of actions.
You see, when you try and fail with people repeatedly, you will lose credibility.
Taking the time foremost to understand what is important for them is vital.
But it takes time and is quick and easy!
Indeed, it is so, because sometimes they don’t know by themselves. By using deep coaching questions (see Coaching FAQ), you can help them discover their own answers.
The next step is to support them in an area of importance for them, but that is not a priority for you.
Why is that?
By first touching a person’s heart, we can connect with them. A connection will then enable us to move to a real alliance.
There is an important lesson that I had to learn in my entrepreneurial journey; it is the fact that I can’t win people to my vision unless it is also theirs.
Especially if you are like me, you can be good at sharing a vision and attracting people to your goal, yet you will find out that it doesn’t last long. The only way to build a strong and long-term partnership is to connect you to their vision. What I now do, is that, before sharing my vision, I first ask them about theirs. If there is nothing in common, I ask them what I can do to support them, and I wish them well.
“Effective leaders know that you first have to touch people’s hearts before you ask them for a hand. That is the Law of Connection.” – John C. Maxwell
3. Look for synergies and collaborations
As you have established the relationships and demonstrated that you are trustable and willing to add value to them, you can now discuss how you can create a mutual value partnership and build synergies.
Start by finding common grounds.
- What are the points that are priorities for both of you?
- Is there a topic or a goal that fulfills priority goals or objectives for you and the other person?
What you discover will enable both of you to build a strong partnership. I might even say that a successful, long-term relationship, and that’s the goal of any business, is only possible when the alignment of both parties is present.
4. You will eventually win.
Whenever I ask a coachee to consider making the other party win, they experience positive results, most of the time already at the first conversation. In fact, such harmonious relationships focused on business mutual value bring more business value. Why?
Because they bring along with them:
- Mutual value that brings trust.
- Trust that saves time.
- Saved time that brings more financial return.
- Trust bringing less tension and conflict, and therefore reduced burn-out.
- Reduced incidence of burn-out that saves a lot of costs.
5. Everything positive in the long run comes from relationships.
When I look back at the successes that I experienced in my private and professional life, I noticed that they all come from one source: relationships. In my marriage and family, it is obvious. However, in our work or business life, we often forget that behind each success, most of the time, there are people who contributed to our success through their thoughts, discussions, encouragements, or work.
Let me guess; you didn’t succeed because you won, AGAINST THEM, but because you won WITH THEM.
Take some time to reflect on these collaborations and take the time to thank them for their contribution.
In a world where mobbing, abuses, and prejudice seem to be the norm, it is not only idealistic to let other people win, but it makes complete sense in terms of business values.
Are you ready to see some long-term collaborations and have the satisfaction of building trusting and mutually beneficial relationships by letting the other person win?
“You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it.” – Dale Carnegie
This entire discussion precludes that people you are not interacting with are not abusers, agents of mobbing, sociopaths, or psychopaths in a clinical sense.
How do I know that somebody is one of these?
One of my coachees was telling me that a colleague he has conflicts with is a psychopath. I mentioned to him that normally only 2-4% of people are and encouraged him to use many of the advice that I shared above. At our next coaching session, he told me:
- “This guy is quite nice.”
- “Really? Tell me more!”
- “Yes, we had a good discussion.”
- “What did you do differently?”
- “I didn’t go as a bull, and I took the time to understand him.”
This experience taught me a lesson: The abuser is sometimes us, and we do it without being aware. However, if you have strong suspicions that somebody is a psychopath (see Psychopath: Meaning, Signs, and vs. Sociopath), you need to protect yourself, especially if you are close to the person (direct colleague, spouse, partner).