In a zero-sum game, one person’s gain is the other’s loss. The two players have no common interests and every incentive to try to outwit each other. But in real life, conflict doesn’t have to be zero-sum. Win-win 🤝 🏆 outcomes are possible when everyone’s incentives are aligned.
Check out these science-backed suggestions for turning conflict into harmony—where everyone feels great about the outcome. 🙌 🥰
adopt a long-term view
It helps to understand the difference between win-lose negotiations (when both parties want the advantage) and win-win negotiations (when mutual benefits are the objective). While the win-lose approach can make sense in one-off situations like buying a car 🚗, a win-win strategy supports real relationship building. The key is to think 🧠 long-term about how you want the relationship to look.
“A win-win negotiation strategy seems to be the more appropriate if the involved organizations wish to develop the relationship,” four business professors wrote in 2018.
The lesson: In interpersonal conflict, focus on what’s best for both parties in the longer term. You may discover you have more in common than you thought—or maybe you can end the conflict altogether. 😃
present multiple offers
Thinking long-term puts you in the right headspace to build towards mutual benefit. Move even closer to an agreeable resolution by making multiple offers at once.
Hmmm… 🧐But won’t your position be weakened when you craft more than one offer? Not necessarily—and this strategy pays big dividends when it comes to how the other party sees you.
“When you make multiple offers simultaneously, you signal your accommodating and flexible nature, as well as your desire to understand the other party’s preferences and needs,” Harvard Business School Professor Max H. Bazerman writes.
The lesson: Conflict often arises because the two sides don’t understand each other. By opening a negotiation with more than one offer, you’ll be able to home in on what they really value. That can zip you 🏎️💨 to a happy result.
collaborate to find creative ways forward
Getting a sense of the other party’s priorities can help you ensure that everyone’s needs are being met. What’s key is a willingness to be creative.
“Collaborating is about not getting hung up on what’s directly in front of you and thinking outside the box to explore ways to a better solution,” Melbourne Business School professor Danielle Payne says.
Consider a salary 🤑 negotiation. Even if you and the organization are at odds around the number, you may be able to argue for more vacation time or more flexibility in your schedule. Both parties “win” by coming out of the negotiation with something they value: better working conditions for you, and the boss “wins” a salary that’s within her budget.
Essential in making this work is openness on both sides about underlying motives. By identifying what both parties are after, you may find you have more in common than you thought. That can completely change the terms of the conflict.
The lesson: Put every possibility on the table when negotiating your way to a solution. Define “win-win” as taking a collaborative approach, and you’ll get to an outcome that benefits everyone. 😎
How do you approach conflict? Do you have any tips for handling disagreements? We’d love your input. Share in the comments section below, or find us on the socials: @illumyinc.
Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash