Remember when your husband left his stinky workout clothes on the floor, AGAIN? Yuck. If you want to create positive, caring relationships (that looks like having a thoughtful husband who picks up his workout clothes before the smell knocks you over), the secret is to use win-wins as much as possible. In this article, learn what a win-win relationship looks like and how to create one.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
A Bad Relationship
We all know what a bad relationship looks like. We may not all know what a good one looks like, but I’m confident that everyone reading this post can spot a relationship that isn’t going well.
Let’s give an example of a bad relationship.
How about Cinderella. She did not get along with her stepmother and stepsisters.
Remember when she wanted to go to the ball? Her stepmother kept her busy doing chores so she couldn’t put together an outfit, but the mice and birds made one for her, out of scraps from her stepsister’s dresses.
But when the stepsisters saw the gown, they got angry and ripped it up.
This type of interaction is not one I’d recommend. Let’s label it, Win-Lose. The stepsisters won. Or so they thought! And Cinderella lost. Or at least she would have if she hadn’t had a fairy g-d mother.
This situation is a typical win-lose. One person wins, the other one loses.
This does not make for a good relationship. I don’t recommend this.
A Good Relationship
Let’s take another fairy tale. Snow White! Her evil stepmother tries to kill her but the huntsman lets her escape.
She runs away into the forest and finds a house.
Does she go in and steal stuff? Does she lock the door and not let the dwarves back into their home?
No! She cleans it.
When the dwarves come home and find her and their clean house, of course they want her to stay. Who wouldn’t? A sweet little girl who breaks in and cleans?
She did a win-win action! She cleaned the house, making it nicer for herself to stay there, while also doing a kindness for the owners.
And look at the result. Everyone’s happy.
Now, there can also be lose-lose situations where no one is happy.
Another word for this is compromise. Everyone gives in and no one’s happy. Okay, that’s a joke. But not really. Sometimes when everyone compromises, no one is happy.
I looked long and hard but couldn’t find examples in fairy tales with lose-lose AKA compromise situations.
Let’s say you want to go to the beach for vacation. Your spouse wants to go to Eurpope. A lose-lose or compromise would be that you decide to do neither and instead go fishing, which neither of you really enjoys. Is anyone happy? No. That’s why compromise can be lose-lose.
You want Win-Win
You can guess where I’m going with this.
In our relationships, we want to create as many win-wins as humanly possible.
What is win-win?
Yourdictionary.com defines it as follows “The definition of win-win is a situation or outcome where everyone comes away happy.”
Isn’t that divine? No one is compromising. There’s no lose-lose. No win-lose. It’s all win-win.
Let’s give some real-life examples.
Kids and Chores
We all want our kids to do chores. Maybe you’ve read the studies (If you haven’t, go back to Episode 9, Why You Should Parent Like It’s 1989) that show that one of the best indicators of future success for kids is doing chores. Weird but true.
So, how do you get your kids to do chores?
1) Lose-Lose. You can yell at them constantly and ask them to do them. The kids won’t end up actually doing the chores. You’ll be upset from asking them to do the chores. Nothing will get done. Lose lose.
2) Win-Lose. You can threaten them. If they don’t do their chores, they don’t get computer time. The router goes off. This approach can be very effective but I don’t know that it’s going to create the long-term future success result that we’re looking for. When something is done under duress, it may not be the best way to form relationships.
The kids will be angry. Sure, they’ll do it. You’ll win the battle in the end, but this type of win-lose behavior may not create the peaceful household atmosphere you’re looking for.
3) Win-Win. You explain to your kids that they have to do chores. You ask them what types of chores they would like to do. Can they come up with their own incentive plan for when they do their chores?
Sunday morning you wake up, the chores are getting done, everyone’s in a good mood. The incentive they chose was family movie night so now you get to spend quality time with your kids AND have them empty the dishwasher.
Now this is what I’m talkin’ about.
Is Win-Win Hard?
When you first start doing win-wins, yes, it can be hard. How do you think about things this way? You’re so used to win-lose. Or compromises. Getting into win-win habits can take some practice.
But the rewards are incredible.
You have the BEST relationships when you think of win-win solutions.
Now, in some cases you may not be able to think of a win-win.
But when you start creating win-wins, it becomes easier and easier.
Have Others Come Up With The Win-Wins
Especially if you have kids, I love to let my kids come up with their own win-win solutions. If they ask me for something, I’ll say – make it a win-win.
So perhaps they’ll ask me for a favor. I’ll say to them – how can you make this win-win?
And they’ll come up with ideas that AMAZE me. Stuff I wouldn’t have even have thought of.
The More Win-Wins, the Better
I encourage you to think in terms of win-win for all of your relationships. You can use this at work, with your parents, your spouse.
It becomes a habit. The more you get used to thinking this way, the easier it gets.
And as a result, your relationships improve. They’re no longer a struggle. Like the battles we talked about with the kids? Those don’t even get a chance to come up because you’re preventing them before they even start — as much as possible, of course. We’re human so it’s not realistic to expect us to always come up with win-win solutions.
However, I believe that relationship challenges are one of the biggest things that can throw us out of balance. When we’re in a “fight,” we don’t sleep. We’re stressed out. We’re ruminating.
The one thing we aren’t is balanced.
I encourage you to prevent fights and tension in the first place by creating win-win relationships. It’ll make all the difference.
Wishing the best,