In business, education, sports, even family life, we are encouraged and rewarded to compete: land the biggest account, reach the top of the bell curve, score the most points, or outperform our siblings. This competitive environment can inadvertently encourage two opposing mindsets.
The first mindset is win-lose: if you get more, that means I get less—so I better get my share first. You think only of yourself and may attempt to win at the expense of others. While you may achieve success in the short-term, eventually you repel the people around you. Trust weakens and productivity wanes.
The second mindset is lose-win: if you get more, there’s nothing I can do, so I’ll just give up. You think of others first and allow them to succeed—sometimes at your own expense. While you may feel safe out of the limelight, eventually you withdraw and resent the success of others.
Neither extreme leads to effectiveness. Only by consistently considering yourself and others when setting expectations, making decisions, and executing on plans will you create the type of atmosphere in which people willingly volunteer their efforts, collaborate, and happily follow your lead. We call this the win-win mindset, or “think we, not me.”
If you recognize yourself in one of the extreme mindsets above, don’t worry. You can develop a “think we, not me” mindset by demonstrating high courage and high consideration in every relationship exchange. Courage is the willingness and ability to speak your thoughts respectfully. Consideration is the willingness and ability to seek and listen to others’ thoughts and feelings with respect.
First, take an inventory of the level of courage and consideration you show in each of your important relationships, then adjust the levels accordingly. For example, you may find that it’s easier to show high courage with people close to you (family members, friends, direct reports) but harder to show that same courage with people you don’t know or with people who have authority over you, such as your boss. For the best results, you’ll want to express both high courage and high consideration in every interaction.
Consider the following ideas to help you balance courage and consideration and “think we, not me” in every relationship:
- Identify one important relationship at work and one at home.
- Rate yourself on the amount of courage and consideration you show in each relationship (1 = low; 10 = high).
- If your courage is low (between 1-5), you may have a lose/win mindset and be thinking “them” without including yourself. To increase your courage . . .
- Write down and practice your opinions with a trusted friend before sharing them with others.
- Tell your boss about your latest success, then do it again.
- Start asking yourself (and writing down) what you want and need—believing that doing so will be in the best interest of everyone.
- Practice asking for things from others—start with things you’re sure you’ll get to help build your confidence.
- Commit to contributing one idea in your next meeting.
4. If your consideration is low (between 1-5), you might have a win/lose mindset and be thinking “me” only. To increase your consideration . . .
- Wait to speak until several others have shared their ideas.
- Ask for input before sharing your thoughts.
- Turn off all devices and make eye contact when talking with people.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Try going with someone else’s decision (in a low-risk situation first) to see how it affects the relationship.
5. If you’re an overachiever and want a fast track to win-win thinking, try this:
- Schedule one-on-one time with the people important to you at work and home.
- Share the scores you gave yourself for courage and consideration.
- Ask for feedback on how you could increase your courage or consideration.
- Listen without interrupting, then thank them for the feedback.
- Act on the feedback you feel is most helpful, and then schedule follow up time with them to assess your progress.
Todd Davis is EVP, Chief People Officer for FranklinCovey and author of Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work