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3 Ways to Create a Win-Win Situation

How to create a win-win situation in a few manageable steps

1. Align with love

Years ago, I read an article on the Steve Pavlina website, which framed everything we do as falling somewhere on the spectrum between love and fear. We choose to polarize with either of the two. Ever since, I have made it a point to stop and try to think about aligning with love when aiming to achieve win win resolutions.

This can be tricky, as it can often go against what our body is feeling at its core. For example, we have a longstanding tradition at Mathlibs: make your own silly math questions. We rank well for it on search engine result pages, and people enjoy it. Here and there I would see other people posting MathLibs handouts and games, however. My body’s response is usually a fearful one. I immediately feel as though our company’s idea is threatened. I would even feel physical pain in my gut.

Most of the times, however, it turned out to be a mom or teacher with the same idea as us. They were merely trying to help kids have fun while learning math. For those who were fellow helpers and educators, like myself, it was hard to try to squash what they were doing. After all, they were helping kids too — fear of math is real.

So rather than rant and order a cease and desist, I reached out politely and asked people to add a hyperlink. That hyperlink either stated that they were not affiliated with our site, or that they were using the mark under a partnership with our site. We made friends, we got links, kids got to triumph over math anxiety: win win.

Take Chances

I’m a total left-brained person. Therefore, aligning with love can be a challenge sometimes. I have much gratitude for a friend who helped me align with love and take a huge leap of faith when moving to California. When I was faced with the prospect of moving, I immediately made a list of logical reasons to wait. My friend, however, flat out told me that in this case, my logic equated with fear. She was right. As I would come to learn,  moving to California is up there on the list of best decisions I have ever made.

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2. Be present

The key to creating win win situations is to be authentic, present, and enthusiastic. When dealing with others, being present helps you understand where the other person is coming from. It’s wise to take cues from their body language, listen actively, and build trust. Practice mindfulness.

When trying to achieve a win win resolution, you must quiet extraneous thoughts. If you are busy thinking about another meeting, or choosing your next words, you will not be open to connection. If you are genuinely listening to  someone’s concerns, goals, expectations, and hopes, you will be able to connect. Try asking compelling questions in order to get to the heart of the matter.

Keep in mind your own reasoning

When we have a goal in our heads we usually outline the best path for achieving it. The problem is, we get very attached to that path. Instead we must focus on understanding WHY we want to achieve our goal. This will allow you to more easily alter your path, if need be. By doing so, you can collaborate on a win-win path that gets someone to their goal while also getting you to yours.

3. Communicate your WHY

Make the effort to communicate clearly. The more authentic and transparent you are, the more likely it is, that the other person will be able to fully understand your concerns and goals. Help the other party understand your personal WHY. Let them see what moves you at your deepest level. Allow them to see why you are seeking and doing certain things and then you can achieve a win win.

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If you have not yet checked it out, take a look at this video of Simon Sinek explaining the power of WHY. Knowing why you do what you do, means that you fully understand your purpose, belief, and cause. He explains how to go from the WHY to the HOW and WHAT.

Even if you are crystal clear with your own goals, there can still be situations where the other person may not be willing to work with you towards a win win situation. If you find yourself facing difficult people, I recommend checking out Bullies, Tyrants, and Impossible People: How to Beat Them Without Joining Them. The authors offer proven techniques for the different types of personalities. For example, you will find out specific ways to deal with strategically difficult people  —  people who are difficult on purpose because they think it will get them something.

Communication Tips:

  • Capitalize on the mirroring phenomenon

    In her 7 Scientifically Proven Steps to Increase Your Influence course, Vanessa Van Edwards of The Science of People explains one technique she uses for communication. She mirrors the behavior of the person she is talking to, and then she alters her behavior with the goal of having that person mirror her. This could mean copying tense body language and then loosening up, and seeing if the other person loosens up as well.

  • Know your audience

    Tailor your communication appropriately. Consider the other person’s communication skills and style. The more common ground you can start with, the better. If applicable, acknowledge the other person for their positive actions.

David Berlo’s SMCR Model

Below is a helpful diagram of David Berlo’s SMCR Model. You (the source of communication) have your own communication skills, knowledge, social system, culture and attitudes. You send out a message, which has many aspects to it, via a particular sensory channel, and this message is received by your audience (the receiver).


Data and facts are important, but appeal to emotion should not be overlooked. There is a lot of interesting neuromarketing research on where the reptilian brain, limbic brain, and neocortex factor into decision making. Spoiler alert: the reptilian brain always wins in rapid decision making situations . Keep in mind that stories win our hearts and minds because of how our brains are wired. Stories have the power to move and are more likely to be remembers that facts. It’s been shown that stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. However, if things feel tense and are not progressing well, try to get the conversation on course. Consider calling it like you see it.

These tips will surely help you achieve a win win resolution in any work, life, or love event. Good luck!

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