Think Win-Win


A pharmacy manager recently mentioned to me how difficult it is to motivate some of his employees.

This is the fourth part of an 8-part series called “7 Habits of Highly Effective Pharmacists."

A pharmacy manager recently mentioned to me how difficult it is to motivate some of his employees. He told me that although the rewards program currently in place was working, he knew the company wasn’t going to keep its word because the rewards are more detrimental to it than beneficial.

I asked if he could think of something more realistic, but his only idea was more beneficial to the company than the employees. I pointed out that this was a lose—win scenario that probably wouldn’t motivate his employees. Although he agreed, that’s the “reward” program he stuck with.

I walked away from the conversation feeling sad because the pharmacy manager agreed to accept a lose-win scenario. His employees lose, but his company wins.

Moving Toward Interdependence

The first 3 habits we discussed focused on independence. We talked about how you can be an effective individual. But, relying solely on yourself isn’t a great way to live because you don’t interact well with other humans. If you’re all by yourself in this world, there’s no way to make a great impact.

When you’re interdependent, however, you’re able to communicate with those around you, which allows you to get more things done. Interdependence starts with thinking win—win, but it takes years of practice and patience to cultivate.

What Win—Win Means

It’s a scenario mutually benefitting everyone involved. Those who think win—win see life as cooperative, rather than competitive, which is win–lose or lose–win.

Most think in terms of dichotomies—like strong vs. weak or win vs. lose—but this thinking is flawed because it’s based on power and position, rather than principle. Win—win is based on the paradigm that there’s plenty in this world for everyone and success can be achieved when others win, too.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the winners are always winning and the losers are always losing. The challenge is to read the reality accurately and not translate a win-lose instance into every situation.

A win—lose or lose–win scenario occurs anytime someone loses in the relationship. The truth is, in either scenario, everyone loses in the long run.

Let’s say I allow a win—lose situation in my relationship with my kids by only playing video games for the next 5 years of their lives. I’d win out while my kids lose out on spending time with their father. They might become rebellious teenagers and awful adults who eventually become estranged from me, so my kids and I both lose.

Finding a Fit

A win-win is a solution that fits both parties all the time.

My family recently took a vacation to Minneapolis, Minnesota. My wife wanted to shop at the Mall of America, and our kids wanted to enjoy its famous amusement park. I don’t like to spend money, but I had to compromise so we could achieve a win—win.

In a lose—win situation, I would’ve become frustrated while my wife spent as much money as she wanted and I sat worrying about our budget. In a win–lose scenario, I’d tell my wife we’re only going to spend $200 on our vacation, bring food with us, pack lunches, and go on only 1 ride each day. I’d win because we would barely spend any money and my wife would lose because she wouldn’t enjoy the vacation.

When to Say “No Deal”

When an agreement that’s beneficial to all parties can’t be made, it’s a “no deal.”

A great example is a boss who always calls you in early for work or asks you to stay late. That’s a lose—win for you and a win–lose for your boss. Ultimately, however, it’s a lose–lose for everyone because your boss will probably end up with a disgruntled, unmotivated employee—or a position to fill when you quit or get fired.

The best option is to address the issue with your boss. If it can’t be resolved, it’s no deal. Maybe it means you aren’t going to stay at your job, but at least you’re going to proactively look for something else that fits your principles.

Remember, you can’t let others push their principles on you. If your boss says you must work extra hours, it’s going to shift things away from your family principle, which hinders the habits you need to live an intentional lifestyle.

A win—win means having tough conversations. Sometimes, you have to be firm and say, “No, I won’t stand for this. My family is too important.” Or, “No, I can’t let you spend $2000 on a vacation because it’s not in our budget.”

Win—wins take intentional conversations about problems in our lives. If we all don’t win, then no deal.

The Key to WinWins

This actually touches upon our next habit: looking outside yourself. Thinking win—win requires you to put yourself in others’ positions and think, “What can they get from this situation? How can they benefit, and how can I?” The key is understanding you have the choice to create a win–win and the power to say “no deal.”

So, how did we get a win—win on our vacation? My wife and I negotiated a per diem that gave her the freedom to enjoy the mall, let the kids go on rides, and kept our pocketbook from having convulsions.

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