Monday, August 1, 2011

Overcoming Win-Lose

Some people insist on a win-lose attitude. In any transaction, they will argue that someone wins and someone loses. I once discarded a perfect attendance award program in exchange for two personal days-off. The attendance award allowed for people to earn up to 2 days of vacation. With the two personal days-off, a few people thought they were losing out on the deal. Many win-lose people assume they lose if someone else is dictating the change.

I realized that no amount of arguing or discussion was going to change their perspective. They live in the mode that someone is always a victim, powerless and on the short end of the stick unless it's the deal they wanted. (Hmm, sounds a lot like Democrats and Republican congresspersons these days.) Unless they've won, they've lost.

So, I started asking questions. "What did you get before? What did you have to do to earn them? What do you get now? What do you have to do to earn them?" Most people realized the logic that they were actually winning. They got the same number of days-off without having to earn them.

Similar discussions happened in a company changing to an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP). It took several rounds of questions to get them to understand that they could/might win without any monetary investment on their part even though the former owners were winning by selling their stock to the employees.

Sometimes questions don't cut it. Reason and logic may not prevail. There's often an amount of fear and worry that some loophole exists, or some bit of information is not known and it's lurking there to bite them in the butt. In those cases, you may have to rely on the skydiving instructor's technique: a gentle push through the door. "Try the new program for a while. If you don't think it's a good deal for you, then let's talk again."

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