And The Winner Is…Both Of Us!

A Critical Doer Is Committed To Thinking And Doing

If everyone has to think outside the box, maybe it’s the box that needs fixing.

Malcolm Gladwell


The Malcolm Gladwell quote is a great point to begin a follow on to the previous post about the importance of asking the right questions to get to the right answers.  Consider this scenario to begin the discussion.

You’ve asked to borrow your neighbor’s new car, and you’re furious because the neighbor said no.  The neighbor just isn’t “getting it” that your car is in the shop and you’re out of milk; how big of a deal is it to let you borrow the car for a quick trip to the store?

On the other hand, the neighbor is apprehensive about letting anyone borrow the car.  The neighbor has an unpredictable schedule and has to respond to a call at a moment’s notice.  In fact, there was a bad experience once loaning out the car thinking it was safe and getting a surprise call to work.  The audacity of that neighbor for asking!

In this scenario, one neighbor is clearly for borrowing the car.  One neighbor is clearly against loaning the car.  But here’s the real question…is borrowing the car really what this is about?

In the bestseller Getting To Yes, authors Roger Fisher and William Ury introduced us to interest based negotiation and the concept of interests versus positions.  The two neighbors have opposing positions on borrowing the car, but those positions don’t reflect their interests…or what it is that they really want.

The first neighbor really just wants a gallon of milk…the car is just a way to get the gallon of milk.  The second neighbor just wants flexibility to respond to a call to work; the neighbor in reality has no objection to your having a gallon of milk.

An interest based solution where everybody wins is simply asking the neighbor to pick up a gallon of milk for you on the way home because your car is in the shop.  You get what you want…a gallon of milk.  The neighbor also gets what he wants…no risk in response to a call to work.

Too often we fail to think critically because we fall into the trap of “zero sum” thinking…a belief that in order for one to get something, someone has to lose something.  This can be a case of a “box that needs fixing” if it seems a stretch to consider solutions to a problem where everyone gets what they want.  In zero sum thinking where someone loses, there cannot be a reasonable expectation of building a relationship of long term value with a customer, partner, or coworkers.

Critical doers should read Getting To Yes and appreciate the difference in interests versus positions.  It’s the key to finding options that add value, build trust, and turn thinking into doing to get things done.

I challenge you to find one situation at work or home where you’re at an impasse with someone on an issue.  Think critically and talk it through to figure out what it is that each you really want…not what you’re for or against…and increase your capacity to solve the toughest problems.  It’s what a critical doer would…do!



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Updated: January 29, 2015 — 2:46 am

1 Comment

  1. How about I win by helping you win?!?!?!

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