Last week, we saw that many of us go through life in the Win/Lose mode and with the scarcity mentality ruling our behaviour. We think, “Me first, then you” and we are afraid
that if someone else is successful, there is less remaining for ourselves. The way we behave in traffic illustrates this well. We leave our homes by car and we are on our way to drop the kids at school and go to work. We are in a hurry, but so are most other road users. We have to make it on time; therefore, we are driving our car in the Win/Lose mode. We want to pass through a busy spot before others and we hoot our car horn frequently, warning others to get out of the way. Now, when there is an obstruction in the traffic, the Win/Lose mode really takes the upper hand. Instead of patiently following the line we are in, many drivers begin to overtake, thinking they can bypass everybody else and pass through the obstruction. They are saying to themselves, “As long as I pass through this place, I don’t care about the other road users. As a result however, they block the incoming traffic, creating another jam and making things worse. Now we are all stuck. Even the person whose car has broken down will not take his or her car to the side of the road, allowing the traffic to flow smoothly. They need to fix their problem and don’t care about the rest. As a result, again, traffic jams. Do I even have to mention the taxi drivers, who are always in a hurry to get to the next batch of passengers before the others and in the process block others? We all have “Me first, then you!” written all over our foreheads. As a result however, none of us are getting anywhere. The result is the opposite and instead of winning we also lose.
The result of Win/Lose is often Lose/Lose.
How does this work in doing business then? Suppose I am supplying your company with goods and I have negotiated a deal with you, which is mostly to my advantage and not yours. In such a case, I win and you lose in the short term. I am getting what I want now, but will you continue to do business with me? Maybe not, and my short-term win will be a long-term loss. Win/Lose is really Lose/Lose in the long run.
Things can really be different if we seek mutual benefits instead. If we are able to think Win/Win, agreements and deals will be beneficial to all parties. Everybody will feel good about it and make it work. Thinking Win/Win is being co-operative, not competitive. Win/Win is not your way or my way; it is a better way. An essential character trait for Win/Win is the abundance mentality as opposed to the scarcity mentality that we looked at earlier. The abundance mentality is a paradigm that means: there is plenty for everybody.
It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. Thinking Win/Win may result in Win/Win agreements between companies and suppliers, employer & employees, any group of people who interact to accomplish something. A Win/Win agreement is an effective way to clarify and manage expectations and will include the following five elements:
Guidelines, rules & regulations
Accountability – describing how results will be evaluated
Consequences – what will happen as a result of the evaluation
Thinking Win/Win may not always result in an agreement though. But if we can’t find a solution in which both parties recognise themselves, it is possible to agree to disagree in a respectful way: No deal. When we go into negotiations with the No deal option in our mind, there is no need to manipulate people, to push our own agenda, to try and win while the other loses. Thinking I want to win and I want you to win too, it may be better not to make a deal than to end up with an agreement that isn’t right for both. Maybe it is possible to come together at another time.
Applying the abundance mentality and thinking Win/Win in doing business is doing business in a sustainable way and with integrity. It is a way of doing business which is fair and decent and does not exploit customers, workers, children, women, the poor and the environment. It is a way in which we apply principles that underpin sustainable behaviour, protecting and restoring relationships and resources instead of exploiting and exhausting them. It is about how we relate to our employees, shareholders, customers and suppliers. It is about our disposition, our mindset and behaviour, which shape and develop relationships with our family, friends, customers, investors, employees, borrowers and fellow citizens. Such mindset automatically leads to the values that connect us deeply as people to other people and as people to institutions, to communities, and to the environment – values such as transparency, integrity, honesty, and shared responsibility. This mindset also leads us to think about the impact our actions will have over the long term.
In conclusion, I should like to challenge the reader and business owner to reflect and ask yourself, to what extent do you do business with integrity, thinking Win/Win and guided by the abundance mentality? In whatever business you are in, do you nurture the relationships with your workers, customers, investors, suppliers and the authorities or do you to a certain extent exploit them, risking that very essential relationship to go sour, negatively affecting your business in the long run?