I win You win

2 July, 2011, by Seema Bhatnagar

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional. - Max Lucado

Conflicts are some of those situations which we face almost on daily basis in our life. Conflicts surfaces between spouses, with bosses, with friends, siblings, children or with anybody with whom we have an interaction. I would say conflicts are inevitable situations in life. These can be defined as difference of personal interests, opinions between a two or more people and their inability to reach to any mutually satisfying solution. The English definition of conflict is "A state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash."
two women in conflict

If not handled timely and in proper manner, conflicts generate lot of friction and create negative energy in the environment. I have seen people stop talking to each other, becoming vindictive at times, getting hostile towards each other, simply because of some ongoing conflicts and their inability to resolve it amicably. There could be n number of reasons for having conflicts, sometimes due to sarcastic remarks, humiliations, lack of respect for each other or may be some past conflicts which adds up to current conflicting situation.

If you imagine any situation in which you experienced conflicts, you would see that you tried to see your benefit first and ignored what the other person wants, just for the simple reason that you did not want to lose anything in a situation or in other words you wanted to be a winner at any cost. Stephen R. Covey in his book The Seven habit of highly effective people mentions "we see the world, not as it is but as we are", which conveys the fact that we ignore the perspective of other person and consider our perspective more important. To prove our perspective we can go to any length.

Personally, I too had the same feeling whenever I faced any conflict, I used to find my perspective more important and see only my interests and wanted to ensure that I should not be proved as a victim or loser in a situation and I must win at any cost. As a result, I always used to end up having sour relationships with others and the other person carries a long term impression that I am a selfish person. It is true with me also, whenever I see other person focusing on his/her perspective and fails to understand mine; I carry the impression that the person is selfish and doesn't think of others. I have experienced conflicts at office with my seniors and colleagues, at home with family and with friends. Every time, I felt the other person is taking my advantage and thinking only of his/her own interests and ignoring mine. Sometimes, this feeling was proved right and sometime I was proved wrong. But yes, this is a feeling which everybody gets when there is a conflicting situation.

Sometimes it is really difficult to resolve the conflicts which ultimately results in a sour relationships. Mostly, people do not have skills to resolve mutual conflicts and they live with them forever. Resolving conflicts needs great amount of understanding, maturity, knowledge and patience. Resolving conflicts is a very important skill to have, especially if your job demands to deal with lot of people.

Positive side of conflicts

Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.- Walter Lippmann

If we look at the positive side, having conflicts is a good sign since it tells us that there could be more than one solution to a problem. In big corporates, sometimes the idea of conflicts is implanted intentionally to get the best possible solution or to generate the best idea. Interestingly, for Ptolemy, the great Egyptian astronomer, the earth was the center of the universe. But Copernicus presented a different view and a great deal of resistance and persecution as well, by placing the sun at the center. Suddenly, everything took on a different interpretation.

While experiencing conflicting situations, we understand the depth of our emotions. We get to know what is important for us and what we demand as a solution to conflict. It makes us to think more about our deep emotions, emotional reactions, personal interests and needs. In a way, it helps us to know more about self.


Negotiation is a best way to resolve mutual conflicts. It is not about winning the situation or playing own terms rather it is more about thinking the solution which is mutually beneficial and resolving the conflict on a positive note. Most of the negotiation talks fail because majority of the people thinks that one should win and other must lose in order to win the argument or situation. This thinking may further worsen a situation. There are different types of thinking about resolving the conflicts.

Well, I am not advocating Win-Win thinking for all situations, there would be times when the win-win thinking is not possible, like in games and competetions somebody has to lose to make the other winner. But in a situaton where it is possible to have a mutually satisfying solution win-win thinking is the best to apply.

Components of Negotiations

Negotiation is an important skill to learn in life as it is required almost daily in our life. It is about resolving the conflict respectfully and amicably keeping interests, needs and benefits in mind of all the involved parties. You must sharpen your skills of negotiations in order to have smooth relationships with others. Always remember one basic point; people are never a problem, so separate people from the problem even before entering any negotiation talk. Starting a negotiation with some preconceived mindset about other person will start the negotiation process in a wrong direction. There are few basic steps one must keep in mind while going for negotiation talks.

  1. Maturity

    Your personality plays a most important role in any negotiation talk. If your body language and other personality characteristics like the way you talk, your pitch, voice modulation, facial expressions are not very comforting to other person you might never reach to any conclusion even if you propose an excellent solution to conflict. The openness and willingness to understand the perspective of other takes a great amount of maturity. If you fail to understand the perspective of other you may never understand why the other person is placing those demands.

  2. Patience

    Patience plays an important role in resolving conflicts. If you lose patience while having a talk, the other person may get an impression that you are more focused on your own interests and want to wind up the talks as soon as possible without giving importance to his/her interests. While maintaining patience, exercise your active listening skills and ensure you are not missing out on any word made by other person during the talks.

    Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent and always assist the other person to save his face. Put yourself in his shoes-so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid selfrighteousness like the devil-nothing is so self-blinding. B. H. Liddell Hart, historian

  3. Clarity of goals

    You must understand what you want from the solution and how much clarity you have about it. If you have a general idea of what you want then the other party might misunderstand you and might take a wrong impression of your desired interests. This may lead to more complexity in conflicts and it might give a feeling of being victimized or have been taken advantage of.

  4. Have a win win mentality

    The key to any successful negotiation is to think about the mutual benefits rather than imposing some solution on others. It is better to develop thinking about what to gain from the negotiation rather what you are losing. This will change the whole perspective of looking at things. The win win thinking means both the parties involved in conflict resolution must think of each other's good while finding a solution for a problem. This can quickly resolve the conflict. It is quite possible that the person might not believe in win-win mentality, in that scenario your maturity and patience will help you to understand the other person and that is a reason why maturity is the most important component of any negotiation talk.

  5. Show respect

    Generally, for many of us, the idea of respect is about accepting what the other person is proposing. As far as I understand respect is about accepting the other human being, with a right to thoughts and feelings independent of our own. With this understanding of respect in mind you could become more open and can have better understanding of other person's perspective.

    Be unconditionally constructive. Approach a negotiation with this-- 'I accept you as an equal negotiating partner; I respect your right to differ; I will be receptive.' Some criticize my approach as being too soft. But negotiating by these principles is a sign of strength. - R. Fisher and R. Ury,"Getting to Yes"

  6. Do not fight

    It is common to have heated arguments and provocative comments during the negotiation talks. It is advised not to fight with other person and ignore the heat of the argument instead maintain your focus on the issue, otherwise, it is will be difficult to proceed in the right direction and the talks might not progress at all.

  7. Give concessions

    Looking into your own interests, if you feel there are certain unimportant aspects which can be compromised in the background of important aspects, then go ahead and make concession by ignoring them. It would definitely make other person to think about reciprocating in the same manner.

  8. Create options

    Rather than sticking to one particular position which address your interests, try to think of various other options. All options might not be suiting to your interests but for sure the creative solutions would definitely increase the possibilities of having a common solution.

  9. Mutual bond

    It is very important to form a bond with other person. These bonds go beyond just talking. Bonding is that underlying emotional synergy that creates the process for mutual influence. It is like an exchange of energy that keep people engaged in a way that holds the relationship together in difficult times. The inability to bond is often the root cause of failures in many negotiations.

With all the basic points in mind, you may very well go ahead with a positive state of mind for negotiations with anybody whether at home, office, business or anywhere. If you are a person holding an authority and managing people, negotiation is an important skill to learn. There might be some conflicts which needs some intermediation of third person. If there is such a need, go ahead and look for a person who is mature enough, understand both the parties and believes in win win thinking.

I would suggest that instead of avoiding the conflicts in any relationship, it is better to confront it and negotiate over it with a positive state of mind. Suppressing the conflict for too long can create emotional disconnect and can also hamper personal and professional success.
Start with a simple step and look around people with whom you are experiencing conflicts, think, plan and negotiate over it and bury the conflict forever. Believe me, once the conflict is over, you would feel much more confident, lighter from inside since you would be spending no energy over avoiding that person or may be thinking different ways to handle the other person. If you want to further enhance your knowlodge about negotiations and managing conflicts read the book R. Fisher and R. Ury, "Getting to Yes"

All the best for sharpening your skills on negotiations.

Be your best.

Seema Bhatnagar
, Blogger, Writer, Life Coach and Founder of Abundance Thinkers, site for personal growth and development. Empowering people in achieving and living the best of personal potential.

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