In baseball, football, soccer, someone wins, and someone loses. Zero-sum games are a way of life in our society.  Zero-sum games are based on win-lose rules.  Someone wins at someone else’s expense.

In organizations, however, where you need to be part of the same team, competition can be unhealthy, destructive, and erode trust.  Consider its ill-gotten effects.

  • It poisons interpersonal relationships.
  • It destroys organizational effectiveness.
  • It diverts time and energy.
  • It destroys goodwill.
  • It provokes anger, resentment, and retaliation.

In an organization, win-lose eventually becomes lose-lose and impacts just about every aspect of the company, including quality, customer service, revenues, and profits.   But we are stronger for the challenge.  How do we do both: compete and cooperate simultaneously?  We might compete initially, but at some point to be successful, the project requires us to work.

Here are ten skills (which can be learned and developed) that will lead to a Win-Win environment in your business and personal relationships:

  1. Listen empathetically
  2. Find out what is important to others
  3. Agree on clear and shared goals
  4. Avoid absolute statements
  5. Involve others who are affected
  6. Make consensus or collaborative decisions
  7. Test trade-offs and compromises for agreement
  8. Look for similarities and areas of commonality
  9. Avoid potential win-lose situations or strategies
  10. Think “Our Problem,” not “My Problem” or “Your Problem

Considering the organization’s culture: another huge impact is on trust. For this article, let’s use the following definition for trust: “Confidence in your relationship with others.”

The Positive/Negative Risk Cycle.

All of us have felt vulnerable before sharing an idea or an opinion about something – especially when it might contradict others’ points of view.  So let’s suppose you take a risk: share and open yourself up to a friend or colleague.  When he/she responds with respect, what happens to your relationship? It is strengthened, and your confidence and trust grow.  Your willingness to share more and to take more risks goes up, too – right?

What happens if you “open up” – expose your vulnerabilities – one-day and your friend or colleague does not treat you with respect, and in fact teases you, and tells other people about it? Your confidence will go down, and your relationship is weakened.  Will you want to share it again? Will you take the risk of sharing a different idea?

Do you see how building trust or not having trust in the workplace could impact the success of your company or department?  Building trust is critical to creating an environment where high performance can grow.

If you want to strengthen trust, competition, and creating cooperation among a team or department members.