We all want to win. At work and in most aspects of life, winning is good, and we don’t like to lose. No one sets out to be a loser. But we do tend to think that if we are going to win then someone else, someone around us, has to lose. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In every situation, the smart Rules Player weighs up the circumstances and asks, “What’s in it for them?” If you know what’s motivating others, you can help steer the situation (and your actions) so you get what you want, but they feel they’ve gotten something out of it, too. The “win-win” mentality might have come out of the workplace, but it applies to pretty much every situation and relationship. To work out what others are likely to want and need, take a step back and remain a little detached, so you’re looking at the situation as if from outside. Suddenly it stops being you and them, and you’ll stop thinking that they need to give way in order for you to win. Dealing with somebody who’s got the hang of this Rule is a rewarding experience—people will look forward to working with you, because there’s an air of cooperation and understanding. Once you’ve learned to always look for the other person’s “bottom line,” you’ll become very fluid in your negotiations and will gain a reputation for being adult and supportive—and that’s another bit of winning for you as well. And it’s not just in workplace negotiations that this win-win reaps rewards. Try it at home, too. If you’re debating where to go on vacation, and you desperately want to go horseback riding in France, think “what’s in it for them?”—what is it about that vacation that will make them happy? Highlight those aspects, and they’re more likely to agree. If you’re struggling to think of anything that will appeal to them, you need to think more broadly—maybe you can find a place where you go horseback riding while they go fishing or sailing. You see how it works. Just asking the question, “what’s in it for them?” helps you think it through.
Someone once said that half of the money he spent on advertising was wasted, but he didn’t know which half. His point was, of course, that if you can’t tell which half, then you have to keep on doing the whole lot, fully aware that not all of it will produce rewards. Life is a bit like that. Sometimes it seems so unfair. You put in loads of effort and get nothing back. You’re polite to people and everyone seems rude back. You work up a sweat and others cruise it. Well, you have to keep on doing the 100 percent because you don’t know which bits will pay off. I know it isn’t fair, but then life isn’t. Your efforts will be rewarded eventually, but you’ll probably never know which efforts are being rewarded—or for what—and which aren’t.
We tend to think we are being lucky sometimes when actually we are just being rewarded for some bit of effort long ago that we have forgotten about. We have to keep going. You can’t give up on the grounds that you’ve had a setback or two, because you don’t know which setbacks are the ones that count and which ones aren’t. I suppose it’s like the number of frogs you have to get acquainted with before you find your prince (or princess). Or the pile of oysters you’d have to open to find a pearl.
But whatever you do, don’t lose heart because things don’t seem to be panning out. Only by keeping up the effort will rewards come in eventually—and you’ll never know from which bits come the best reward.