Making the other person win, will make you win

How can you make the other person win?
This is the question that I often ask during Executive Coaching sessions whenever a conflictual situation is being discussed.
Usually, the answer goes, “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 must lose.

The problem with making somebody lose is that it doesn’t build relationships and loyalty. It makes them want to take their revenge, make you pay the price, and get you to lose next time. In a transactional relationship, you might win a battle but lose the war.
What if both could win?
This is how to build mutual value, alliance, and true loyalty that we seek to achieve.
But how does it work?

1. Find out what’s important to them.

“Every single day, we are faced with the task of persuading others. And every single day, we face resistance.”
Bob Burg

You need to know more about their goal and objectives to make them win.

  • 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 a negotiation. They are a true discovery of what the other person is about, which is important for progressing to the next step.
Sometimes, if you are like me, you are not keen to ask many questions. Maybe because you don’t want to bother the other person or 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 like people to listen to, understand, or recognize you. So does everybody else.”

In a 2003 study with medical doctors, Beth Huntington and Nettie Kuhn demonstrated that when using listening skills, empathy, and apologies, doctors could reduce their patients’ complaints and legal actions in case of medical errors. As you can see, when you first step forward toward 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 them in areas of priority

Once you determine their priorities, you can offer support and discuss how you can contribute to their success.
After thinking about issues with his team for only one second, one of my coachees immediately said, “This is what I am going to do. I will try doing this,” and started a list of actions.
You will lose credibility when you repeatedly try and fail with people.
Taking the time to understand what is essential 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 answers.
The next step is to support them in an area of importance that is not a priority for you.

Why is that?

First, we can touch a person’s heart to connect with them. This 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 it doesn’t last long. The only way to build a strong, 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 nothing is in common, I ask them what I can do to support and 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

After establishing the relationships and demonstrating that you are trustworthy and willing to add value to them, you can now discuss how to create a mutually beneficial partnership and build synergies.

Start by finding common grounds.

  • What are the priorities for both of you?
  • Is there a topic or a goal that fulfils 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, the goal of any business, is only possible when both parties are aligned.

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. Such harmonious relationships focused on mutual business value bring more business value. Why?

Because they bring along with them:

  • Mutual value that brings trust.
  • Trust that saves time.
  • Saved time brings more financial return.
  • Trust brings less tension and conflict and, therefore, reduces burnout.
  • Reduced incidence of burn-out saves a lot of costs.

5. Everything positive in the long run comes from relationships.

When I look back at the successes I experienced in my private and professional life, I notice 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 failed because you won AGAINST THEM, but because you won WITH THEM.
Take some time to reflect on these collaborations and 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 long-term collaborations and be satisfied with 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 don’t have an antisocial personality disorder.

How do I know that somebody is one of these?

One of my coachees told me that a colleague he has regularly conflicts with is a “psychopath”. I told him that typically only 2-4% of people are and encouraged him to use much of the advice 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 took the time to understand him.”

This experience taught me a lesson: The abuser is sometimes us, and we do it without awareness. However, suppose you have strong suspicions that somebody is a person with an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). In that case, you must protect yourself, especially if you are close to the person (direct colleague, spouse, partner).

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