Win / Win Solutions: Top skill for productive Conflict Outcomes

What is the key factor for successfully resolving an argument?

win winWhat is a Win/Win Solution? A Win/Win answer is a healthy and respectful resolution to friction between two parties. Finding a solution that endeavors to find a result in a way that respects the wants and needs of both sides. It is also a clarification of how problems are handled in the future. Win/Win solutions are the results of positive and healthy conflict negotiation skills. In an argument, both sides need to focus on finding a Win/Win solution. This conclusion should be dependent on each person’s wants or needs, so they feel respected in the solution and negotiation process. People often desire a victorious finish for their side.  But winning means that someone has been defeated. The loser will often hold onto Hidden Resentments against the winner. Hidden resentments are anger, animosity, annoyance, bitterness or exasperated feelings over a result in a disagreement. People tend to think if they have won an argument…..they are totally victorious! That is untrue especially in a long-term or important relationships. If the other side feels cheated, disrespected or unhappy about the outcome, deep down they will develop hidden resentments. These deep feelings come out in all kinds of negative ways in a relationship. The “injured” party may pull away, become cool towards the other, be sarcastic, less interested, they may yell, cry, demand more, be unvolved, become less helpful, be more critical,  gossip about the other or become more secretive, etc. So there is no Winning in a relationship if the other person feels they have Lost. Even if it doesn’t happen right away;  in the course of time, the relationship becomes unhappy and unhealthy. Therefore, when there are conflicts, two parties should use conflict negotiation skills and come up with Win/Win solutions. 

Here are some examples of positive Win/Win solutions. These examples are meant to inspire you, teach you and help you understand a true Win/Win solution.

Examples of Win/Win Solutions:

Example 1: Couple is newly married. One person grew up having butter in a container on the counter. The other grew up having butter kept in the refrigerator.  Win/Win solution: one stick of butter sits on the counter, and the other stick is kept in the fridge.

Example 2: One person believes drinking glasses should be put in the cupboard with lip up, the other person believes the cups should be put away upside-down.Win/Win solution: Half the glasses are put away right side up, and the other half is put away upside-down. Each person can get a cup from the cupboard the way they like it.

 Example 3: One person likes their toilet paper to unroll from the bottom, and the other likes it to roll out from the top. Win/Win Solutions: Whoever puts in the new roll, gets to put it in their way. Another solution: one week it rolls over the top and the next week it rolls out the bottom. 3rd solution: One bathroom always has it roll from the top and a second bathroom always has it roll from the bottom. These are several examples of different solutions that respect both sides of the issue.

Example 4: Couple gets a $1,000.00 Tax rebate. One person wants new hubcaps for the car. The other person wants a new couch in the living room. The rebate does not cover both purchases.  Win/Win solution: They put the money in the bank and save until they can afford to buy both. Another solution: They don’t buy either instead they went on a vacation both wanted to go on. 3rd solution: They buy the couch now because it is on sale and in 3 months when a pay bonus will happen the other can buy the hubcaps. Again several examples of Win/Win solutions for the same problem.

Example 5: A couple was brought up in slightly different sects of the same religion. One believed in baptizing a baby shortly after birth. The other believed in waiting until the child was older and could make the decision on their own. Win/Win solution: Their baby would be baptized as an infant and told that when they got older, they would recommit to their faith by being baptized at the time of the child’s choosing.

Example 6: Every year during a weekend family reunion, a couple is expected to provide a meal for everyone. This includes bringing the food, preparing the meal, serving, and clean-up. Every year, the couple agrees to provide lunch on Saturday. But every year, the husband goes to play golf on Saturday with the other men promising to be home in time to help. Somehow, he never makes it home until 2 PM (after lunch). Win/Win Solutions: #1) They instead choose to make the Saturday evening meal understanding the husband will not be home in time for lunch #2) the husband agrees to play only nine holes of golf  and get back in time to help #3) the husband plays golf on Sunday when someone else is making the brunch.

In all these cases, both sides felt heard, respected and agreed upon the solution. Both parties adjusted to the change and later never even thought about how they use to do it differently. Thus, there is no cause for Hidden Resentments, and a positive change in behavior occurred. These are the signs of a good Win/Win Solution. If an answer is tried and one or more of the parties are dissatisfied with the result, it is time to re-discuss the conflict resolution. This means going back to the drawing board and coming up with a different result that may work better for both sides. This process should be repeated until both sides are comfortable with the results. Win/Win Solutions are only successful when both parties are comfortable. Just like with parenting, different people need a diverse set of resolutions.  There is no special, magical, all in one solution. Successful answers take into consideration that neither side gets to have things completely their way because the other party loses.

This article has provided you with an understanding of the meaning of Win/Win Solutions. The reader is armed with a variety of examples to show them this process. You now have the advantage of knowing this top skill in productive conflict outcomes. Use Win/Win solutions to resolve a disagreement so you become a Winner in Life! 

For more information, check out How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie or Miscommunication by C. David Mortensen. If you would like more information from this author, Check out A key Life Skill: Effective Communication or Gaining a deeper Understanding into Miscommunication Mistakes at