The 4th Habit of Highly Effective People: Think Win/Win (Part I)

Win_Win_1How much interpersonal conflict have you witnessed or been part of over the last week? How about over the last month?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way we could interact with everyone in ways where we seek to benefit everyone and cooperate naturally?

Disagreements and conflicts can occur anywhere – in companies, in families, in friendships, in romantic relationships, in teams, etc.

According to Stephen Covey, the secret to avoiding adversarial relationships and practicing effective interpersonal leadership is the habit to “Think Win/Win.”

It sounds simple. But what I found really interesting is that 2 big foundational pieces need to be in place in order to be able to truly think win/win. And it all starts with our character.

Stephen Covey explains that here are 3 important character traits that are essential to Win/Win:

1.      Integrity: This involves understanding our deepest values and prioritizing around those values on a daily basis. If we are in true harmony with our innermost values, and have organized our life around them, then we can make commitments not only to ourselves, but also to others, and keep them.

In coaching, one of the very first things we usually work on is identifying our values, because it really is so foundational to personal growth.

What are your deepest values? Do you prioritize around them every day?


2.      Maturity: Covey defines maturity as being able to express your feelings and convictions with courage, balanced with consideration for the feelings and convictions of others.

Many people think in either/or terms: For example, if you are nice, you are not tough. But Win/Win is nice AND tough.  You have to be nice AND courageous, empathic AND confident, considerate AND brave.

If I’m high on courage and low on consideration, I will think Win/Lose. If I am high on consideration and low on courage, I will think Lose/Win.

I’ve noticed that I tend to naturally gravitate more toward Lose/Win, since kindness is a big value of mine. The problem is that if we continuously put ourselves last, we build up resentment.

In what direction do you usually gravitate? What would you like to practice more of?


3.      Abundance Mentality: Most people have been conditioned in the Scarcity Mentality: They see life as having limited resources, as if there was only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, that would mean less for everybody else.

The Abundance Mentality on the other hand, comes from the conviction that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in being willing to openly share recognition, profits, and opportunities, and opens new possibilities and options.

This one is something I have been working on for years. Since our society is so competitive, we are taught to believe that there can only be one “number one.” I have noticed that the happier I am with myself and my life, the easier it is to feel abundant.

How do you see life – as having limited resources or plenty of them?


This is not a quick fix – it takes time to build these character traits and plenty of practice. It is a very worthwhile investment, though. Building our character has a profound effect on our work, our relationships and our lives.

Check out Part II here: The second foundational piece for thinking win/win – creating trust in relationships.


Manuela loves helping smart and creative women bring more balance, happiness and success into their lives through Professional Life Coaching!

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