Collaborative Relationships: Think Win-Win for Long-Term Success

a month ago   •   4 min read

By Zero Machina
“In the long run, if it isn’t a win for both of us, we both lose. That’s why win-win is the only real alternative in interdependent realities.” — Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Being successful takes more than just individual effort. It requires strong relationships with other people.

To be more productive and have better relationships, try thinking win-win instead of win-lose.

This is the fourth habit listed in Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and it can have a big impact on your relationships, productivity, and time management.

In this article, we break down what it means to think win-win, why it’s beneficial, and how you can implement this concept into your own life.

What Does It Mean to Think Win-Win?

Many of us go into human interactions seeking a win-lose situation. We think of life as a zero-sum game and assume that, if we don’t get our way, we’ve lost and the other person has won.

This isn't very productive.

Covey defines thinking win-win as a “character-based code for human interaction and collaboration.” When you think win-win, you approach life and human interactions with a collaborative mindset. On the other hand, win-lose is a competitive mindset and leads to conflict in interpersonal relationships.

A win-win attitude constantly seeks mutual benefit. As a result, everyone wins.

Why Should You Think Win-Win?

When you think win-win, you become a more pleasant and enjoyable person to work with.

You can enjoy better interactions with your colleagues and team members. As a result, you'll have an easier time building stronger, more trustworthy relationships.

This has multiple benefits in your work and life.

Benefit #1: Spend Less Time Arguing

If you're in the habit of arguing to get your way, it may be time to rethink your approach.

Arguing wastes valuable time that could be spent more productively. Instead of focusing on being right, try thinking win-win and looking for better alternatives.

You'll be surprised by how effective and efficient your team can be.

Benefit #2: Focus on Other Things That Matter

A win-lose situation requires you to focus on winning at the expense of everything else.

This is a waste of time and energy.  You become so focused on winning that you forget about other things that are important.

Thinking win-win can help you refocus your energy on things that are more important than winning arguments or gaining status.

This might involve carrying out the project you were arguing about previously. Or you could focus on other tasks that only you can complete, which improves your and your team's productivity.

By learning to think win-win, you can save time and energy for the things that truly matter.

Benefit #3: Build Better Relationships

Thinking win-win is better for your interpersonal relationships than thinking win-lose.

When you have stronger relationships, collaboration becomes more effective. . You'll come to conclusions faster. And creative solutions will emerge.

Healthier, stronger relationships make it easier to achieve your goals. This is because the people around you will be more supportive and helpful.

How to Think Win-Win

Many of us operate with a win-lose mindset.

But we can change this with practice and commitment, replacing ruthless competition with more of a collaborative mindset.

To develop a habit of thinking win-win, try these tips:

1. Strike a Balance

Do you believe that thinking win-win requires you to be a pushover? In reality, it’s all about striking a balance.

Those who think win-win know how to balance courage with consideration. They know when to be courageous and stick to their guns, and they know when to consider another’s perspective. They strike a healthy balance.

According to Covey, there are three vital character traits that one must develop to achieve this balance and think win-win:

  • Integrity: Sticking to your true feelings, upholding your values, and keeping your commitments.
  • Maturity: Expressing your ideas and feelings openly while also considering others’ ideas and feelings.
  • Abundance Mentality: Believing there is plenty for everyone — i.e., you don’t have to get 100 percent of your way 100 percent of the time.

The more you work on these traits, the easier it’ll be to start thinking win-win and seeing improvements in your work relationships, productivity, and performance.

2. Practice Pausing

If you're always the first to speak, this tip is especially important.

Make a concentrated effort to pause before you give your opinion in meetings and other collaborative occasions. And when others are speaking, actively listen to what they have to say.

You'll probably discover others have productive ideas that you may not have considered before.

3. Seek Feedback

Thinking win-win requires that you understand others' perspectives.

This is why seeking feedback is helpful.

Invite others to share their opinions and insights—whether it's team members, employees, or leadership.

This gives you more opportunities to think win-win and consider others’ viewpoints. It also helps team members gain more confidence in speaking up.


Next Steps: Start Thinking Win-Win Today

Someone who constantly seeks mutual benefit in all interactions will build stronger relationships. They'll also be more equipped to achieve their goals.  Start thinking win-win–it's worth the effort.

If you want to think win-win more often, schedule regular meetings through Undock. This will give you more opportunities to practice these skills and build better relationships with your team. Try for free!

And if you want to improve your collaboration skills, check out our article: Delivering Feedback with the Positivity Sandwich: The Pros and Cons.

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