The Art of ‘Win-Win’

The art of win-win

How do you define winning?

In 1963, Herb Cohen coined the term “win-win”; he went on to use the parameters to negotiate during the Russian missile crisis in the 1980s, insurance claims for his employer, Allstate, and his own children as they grew. The basis of win-win negotiations begins with treating people well, and also:

  • Listening to the other person.
  • Respecting his or her position.
  • Leaving your toughest negotiation piece until the end.
  • Keeping your demeanor amicable.
  • Admitting to calculated incompetence; it’s okay to say “I don’t know.”

However, all of these principles seem to go against the modus operandi of most Americans, replaced by, “Never let them see you sweat,” “Do or Die,” “Fake it ’til you make it.” This type of attitude seems wrought with fear and allows a person to build up a wall, making learning impossible.

The one thing that is truly free in this world and often elusive is niceness, or in business, customer service. Most people come to work, keep their heads down, punch their time clock, and leave at the end of the day. Where is the win?

Sometime last year, it was suggested to our sales staff that when leaving a message, we should smile while speaking. Sitting in a space that is outside the visual view of my coworkers, I can absolutely tell when they’re smiling and when they’re not. Certainly, our clients or potential clients can hear that as well.

What did it cost? How much time did it take? Compare that to the potential reward (happy client, or potential new client), seems like a win-win.

But being nice seems so difficult.

Occasionally, I will buy coffee for the person behind me in the line at Starbucks, send a client a little box of treats after a kind word, or take someone’s grocery cart back into the store for them on a rainy day. I have no idea how that other person felt, but I feel pretty good, that in some small way I made a difference. What if we all did that?

The world would become a crazy place for sure!