Note: This is a guest post from Eduard Ezeanu of People Skills Decoded

Win-win solutions are the most desirable way to solve problems and conflicts. When you win and the other person wins, instead of one winning and the other losing, then everybody is happy and the relationship gets stronger as a bonus.

Win-Win SolutionAlthough win-win solutions exist in many situations, it is often hard to see them. We need a special way of looking at things in order to discover them. I believe that finding win-win solutions happens through effectively applying 3 essential steps.

Step 1: Take your negative emotions out of the equation

The situations where win-win solutions are not evident and need to be found are situations where our interests initially seem to clash with those of another person. They are situations of apparent opposition and conflict.

It is in these kinds of situations that our negative emotions tend to manifest the most: the fear of losing, the anxiety of not finding a convenient way out, or the anger at the other person. These emotions, especially when they are intense, tend to cloud our judgment and our creativity, which are the exact tools we need to find a win-win solution.

This is why it’s fundamental that you detach from any negative emotions. Firstly, recognize them when they manifest and bring into your awareness the fact they sabotage the process of finding a solution. Secondly, combat the irrational thoughts you may have which feed these emotions. This is in my view the most effective way to deal with them.

Step 2: Focus on the solution

If at the emotional level we have the inconvenience of negative emotions, at the behavioral level we have the trouble brought by passive and aggressive communication. It’s very tempting in a conflict situation to communicate this way: to justify ourselves, blame the other person, criticize, avoid the discussion or dig up the past.

As we do this, we lose track of finding a win-win solution and so we do not find one. The best way to avoid this phenomenon is to anticipate that it may happen and to notice your focus and communication style in conflict situations. And, every time you catch yourself or the other person straying from the solution finding process, bring the focus and the conversation back to it.

Step 3: Explore the context and options

A significant reason why we often don’t find a win-win solution is that we don’t insist hard enough with the solution finding process. We just give a shot in a semi-chaotic way, and then we give up. What we need to do is truly explore the context and the options.

In any conflict situation, start by ensuing that both parts agree to try and work together instead of fighting, and state their goals clearly. Continue by exploring the deeper motivations behind the stated goals and understanding each part’s story.

Then, get creative and generate solutions. Analyze each solution together; compare them in terms of costs and benefits for each side and agree on one win-win solution which best serves both parts. Finally, put that solution into practice. Stick to this process, apply it systemically, and if there is a win-win solution for your situation you will find it.

I believe it is always best to try and find a win-win solution to a conflict. Many viable solutions remain just unapplied theory because people don’t put in the effort to find them and don’t approach the whole process in a constructive, effective way.

We live in an abundant world, with many resources. It’s a pity to not find the best ways to use them and to not share them when this is a sound option.

Eduard Ezeanu is a communication coach who teaches people how to put their best foot forward in communication. He has recently launched the site Conversation Starters and he also writes on his blog, People Skills Decoded. You can follow him on Twitter at @EduardSays.

Photo by Q U E E F

Categories: Relationship, Working

Please use your real name and note that I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

  • Daniel M. Wood

    Hi Eduard,

    Great post.
    What I like to do is to try and see the problem from the others point of view. By understanding why they want what they want and why they have chosen their response tells us a lot about how we can solve the situation together.

    By then detaching from the problem and seeing it from a different angle, objectively, we can start finding positive solutions.

    This is something we should practice every time a situation arises, it is difficult. I believe I will never truly master it, but I can improve my whole life.


  • Eduard – People Skills Decoded

    Hi Daniel,

    I think this is an important step. You know that saying: one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. We often ignore this and only look at things from our perspective. That’s when finding the best solution gets very hard.

  • Josh Frenkel

    I really enjoyed this post. I think it’s so easy to forget these simple methods of separating any anger or other emotions one might have with relation to an issue.
    I think the big question is how to best teach ourselves and others techniques to adhere to these steps in the heat of the moment. Most people know these things, but few are able to do them.

  • Craig Thomas

    Nice post. Especially step 2, noticing how you communicate is important. There’s always an occasion I notice after what I’ve said when I should have noticed there and then.

  • Bernadette Boas

    For years I would have preferred just forcing my position rather than working with someone for a win-win. Once I moved beyond it being ‘all about me’, and learned how to negotiate and compromise, it was liberating……

    it is fun to find creative ways to the most challenging and even difficult situations to find win win solutions..

    Thanks for the reminder

  • Ben Archer

    I really like the step by step nature of this process. Particularly when I am emotionally invested in a problem It is very hard to extricate myself and see the bigger picture. Because it is broken down into three steps it can be used almost like a checklist to enforce emotional distance and make sure nothing becomes too personal. It’s a great and easily applicable way to work on finding a better solution to any problem.

  • Madelynan Doyle

    Great post. I would just add that in the heat of the moment, we need to step back and breathe. Often the act of taking a slow, deep breath can take us away from the knee jerk reaction of anger. When we take that deep breath, let go of the emotion as you release the air. Maybe take a couple of additional deep breaths. It really doesn’t take that long and you may find that your mind clears and the emotion evaporates. Once you are thinking clearly, solutions come more readily. Thanks for the post.

  • Lizzy

    It always happens to me that I say something and then later regret it…This is not one quality that will create a win-win

  • Kuber dhakal

    This article made me great in my society…today i am well known person for community dispute for dissolve it.

  • Pingback: Bridging the Gap – Win/Win Solutions? « Alita M. Madisen

  • Veikko Saksi

    Hi, very good article and simple steps. I would like to know how this kind of win-win situation could be applied in a territorial issue/dispute.

    I have studied the Karelian issue between Finland and Russia, for over 10 years, and proposed a win-win solution, in which the itself return would be the catalyst for best win-win results.

    The Karelian issue is today latent, because the Finnish and Russian governments do not want to speak of it, but over 40 % of Finnish people want to get the territories back. Because of the Continuation war between Finland and the Soviet Union, the SU ceded 45,000 km2 of the Finnish territories.

    This causes very must mistrust against Russia. So the situation is very far from win-win. I think the win-win principle could very well be used to solve the territorial issues profitably for both parties – and for the better security of the total world.

  • choksy

    Hi! i would like to know your ideas …….
    You are an entry-level engineer in a consulting firm.

    •A group of interns have joined your firm for a short time.

    •You have been given the job of training them.

    •At the end of the internship period they will evaluate you, which will form a major basis for your promotion.

    •The interns are a lazy bunch and do not follow your instructions because of which you are losing interest in the assignment.

    •They request you to conduct only half-day training each day so that they can spend the other half doing their own work.

    •In return, they will give you very good evaluations.

    •If you do not agree, you can kiss your promotion goodbye

    How would you deal with this situation professionally?

  • Kurt Davidson

    Hi, I would really like it if you would explain this concept of “Win, Win Solutions” to our Political Parties so we could have a functioning government.


    A Foolish American Citizen

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