Would you like to resolve all your conflicts without arguing? No more "My way!", "No my way!" fights? Learn instead the win-win waltz suggested by Susan Heitler, PhD. Graduated from Harvard and NYU, she is one of the top 10 marriage therapists in America and the author of From Conflict to Resolution.
Conflicts occur often between folks, at home, and work. One wants to turn left and the other to turn right. Fortunately, differences needn't lead either to fighting to establish who wins and lose or giving up on what you want. There's no need to compromise or to get mad.
The same strategy not only works for duos, but also within groups of any size, and even the inner dialogue between two parts of yourself. You might want to eat a chocolate cookie, and at the same time want to lose weight.
A waltz has three steps. Here are the three steps of the win-win waltz.
A quick win-win problem-solving example
Step #1: Note when there's a conflict
Janie phones Bill just before leaving work to say that she wants to go out for supper. Bill wants to stay home. Oops. They are facing conflict. A situation in which they seem to want opposite solutions. A decision that needs to be made jointly.
The first step, and often the hardest, of the win-win waltz, is to recognize that, Ah! We have a conflict here. It's a waltz-time!
Step #2: Switch from insisting on your preferred plan of action to exploring both of your underlying concerns
Instead of engaging or a tug of war or either of side caving into the other, Janie and Bill each put their underlying concerns on the table. Janie says that she has been working long hours and feels too exhausted to cook. She also has a yen for a lush green salad with lots of fixings, and their refrigerator is empty. Bill wants to watch his favorite team on TV and none of the restaurants they like has a TV screen. Besides, salads leave him hungry.
Step #3: Find a solution responsive to all the concerns
Bill then proposes a win-win solution idea, a plan of action that he hopes works for both of them. "How about if I stop at the grocery store on the way home, the one with a big salad bar, and pick up big salads for us to eat together at home? I'll add a hearty soup for myself, also get some bread and fried chicken legs. I'm glad to clean up the kitchen after supper too; I can watch the TV from the sink."
Bill's plan was responsive to all his concerns, and to all the concerns of his wife as well.
What are the secrets to finding win-win solutions?
Rather than insisting from the outset on your way, use it as a jumping-off point for diving down to clarify your partner's and your underlying concerns.
The hardest part often is step one: noticing when to use win-win solution-building. You'll need to practice noting any time you feel a tug of war emerging, that is, any time that each of you is pulling for a different plan of action.
The secret then is to flip immediately from arguing in favor of or against particular action plans to collaboratively verbalizing each of your underlying concerns. No more persuading; just mutual exploring and listening.
Once the two of you have succeeded in generating a full list of underlying concerns, generating win-win solutions can be creative and fun.
Use the worksheet below to guide you through the win-win waltz to solutions that please you both.
Save The Win-Win Waltz Worksheet
The three steps of win-win waltzing help you to understand each other's concerns instead of locking into adversarial positions. The more understanding you gain about both your and others' deeply felt concerns, the more likely it becomes that you will be able to be nice to yourself and simultaneously nice also to others.
Happy Chinese Valentine's Day