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Commentary - Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Thinking toward a win-win scenario

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Editor's Note: This is the fourth story in a seven-part series on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. A class on these habits is offered periodically by the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation or discussion where you feel unable to get your point across or your side of the story taken into consideration? I'm sure most of us have, but perhaps the outside influences aren't to blame. Perhaps we could reach resolution if we start with ourselves and take responsibility for what we bring to the table. That is the first step in creating win-win agreements.

Think win-win. This is the habit of mutual benefit and the fourth habit in the series called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a seminar offered by the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

Before we are able to go outside of ourselves to seek resolution, we must be able to exercise the first three habits; being proactive, beginning with the end in mind and putting first things first. By adopting these three habits into our lifestyle, it will make adapting ourselves to habit four flow much easier and inevitably make us more effective.

"Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspect of their lives," said American philosopher and psychologist, William James.
We first need to realize there is plenty out there for everyone, and more to spare. This is an effective outlook on a disagreement, it breeds cooperation not competition. If there is mutual respect between the two opposing parties there can be mutual benefit from the resolution. There are six different ways to view human interaction, ranging from a lose-lose situation to a win-win or no deal situation.

I played soccer all throughout high school and for the most part, I loved it. Coach Lewis coached me since I was a little girl and we knew each other very well. I started playing varsity soccer as a sophomore and it was so exciting -- much more competitive and fast paced. Even though Coach Lewis and I had worked together for many soccer seasons, I had never been exposed to varsity level of competition and his desire to win. There was one particular game I'll never forget; we played one of the upstate schools for a chance to win our conference. Most people at school said we didn't have a chance, but Coach Lewis kept reminding us that we had the ability to beat them.

It was a tough game, we were up 1-0 at the half. I'm not sure what happened on their side of the field, but they came back in with their A-game. They beat us 2-1. Coach Lewis lost it. He yelled at us, called us pathetic, chucked our water cooler across the field and started kicking our bags. On the bus ride home we did not speak. In fact, some girls didn't show up for practice the next day and some even quit. This was a lose-lose situation.

Not only did he lose his conference title, but he lost half of his team and most of the teams' respect. The team lost their confidence in their coach, the motivation to play for him, and also lost out on the rest of the season.

You get what you give. That's a common philosophy in life. That's exactly what happened with Coach Lewis. He was upset, and wanted us to understand that he was disappointed, not because we lost, but because we gave up, we stopped giving 100 percent and that's his motto from day one for us- -to never give up and always give 100 percent. However, the way he chose to go about it dictated negative benefits for everyone.

It's vital to balance courage and consideration when approaching a conflict. Courage is the willingness and ability to speak your thoughts and feelings and consideration is the willingness and ability to seek and listen to others' thoughts and feelings with respect. These are two qualities you need to possess to achieve a win-win situation.

If Coach Lewis had engaged in the conflict differently, how different could the outcome have been? It could have ended with a result which benefited everyone; fostering a win-win relationship between the coach and his team.

It takes a conscious effort to seek out a win-win agreement during conflict. Win-win agreements work best when you want to explain expectations, increase empowerment, delegate responsibilities and align conflicting priorities.

I challenge you to consider your lives and the relationships you hold with people. Think about your professional and personal relationships, even the relationship you have with your children. Challenge yourself to accept the responsibility of your thoughts and actions when disagreements come knocking at your door, challenge yourself to envision a win-win agreement and challenge yourself to get there!

To learn more about how to develop win-win relationships in your life, or to learn more about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People seminar, contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center for more information at (720) 847-6681.
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