Adaptive Teams Coaching Community Development Leadership Motivation Positivity Potential Productivity Purpose Teamwork

The 7 habits of highly effective people: think win-win

Today, we’re continuing our series on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.


If you’ve missed any of the previous installments, you can access them below:

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of taking initiative and being proactive in life.

In Part 2, we discussed how getting clear on your values will help you live a more meaningful and satisfying life.

In Part 3, we covered the necessity behind time management and effectively setting goals.


So let’s now discuss Habit #4 in Covey’s bestselling book, and that’s the habit of thinking win-win.

You’ve no doubt heard this expression before, most likely in sentences like “it’s a win-win situation.”

Indeed, there are actually six paradigms of human interaction. They are:

  • Win-Win: all of the parties win. Agreements and solutions are mutually beneficial to everyone involved.
  • Win-Lose: “If I win, you lose.” Win-Lose people tend to use their power, position, possessions and authority to get their way.
  • Lose-Win: the other way around – “I lose, you win.” This is the paradigm of people pleasing. Lose-Win people seek popularity and validation.
  • Lose-Lose: both people lose. This happens when two Win-Lose people get together both of whom are stubborn and ego-invested. It’s the philosophy of conflict and war.
  • Win: simply think win. People with the win mentality don’t necessarily want others to lose – it’s irrelevant. They just want to get what they want.
  • Win-Win or No Deal: if you can’t reach a mutually beneficial agreement, then there is no deal.

According to Covey, the ideal paradigm is to always think win-win in any and all situations. There are a few reasons why.

For one, win-win thinking helps create better relationships. Think of the type of rivalry that already thrives in many workplaces today. Some office cultures are cut-throat in nature, with employees who focus on outshining their peers and getting ahead by any means necessary. They have a vicious scarcity mindset that would have them believe that in order for them to win, someone else may lose. But imagine if we flipped that paradigm on its head and instead believed that by helping others win, we also can win right alongside with them. There’s a saying that goes as so: a rising tide lifts all boats. When we make contributions and improvements to a company, all of the participants in that company benefit. In this case, thinking win-win is certainly the ideal strategy of choice.

Secondly, thinking win-win builds character. When we approach business and workplace relationships, they no longer consist solely of the ‘What’s in it for me?’ drive under this type of thinking. Instead, you also begin to consider ‘What’s in it for them?’ You think of ways you can add value and help others succeed. This strengthens your integrity, maturity, and trustworthiness.


So how do you build your win-win muscles?

  • Review your own thought process. Is it win-lose? How does that affect your interactions with other people? Can you identify the main source of your current ideology? Determine whether or not it serves you well.
  • Make a list of obstacles that keep you from applying the win-win paradigm more frequently. How can you overcome and eliminate some of those obstacles?
  • Select a specific relationship where you would like to develop a Win-Win Agreement. Try to put yourself in the other person’s place, and write down explicitly how you think that person sees the solution. Then list, from your own perspective, what results would constitute a win for you. Approach the other person and ask if he or she would be willing to communicate until you reach a point of agreement and mutually beneficial solution.
  • Try to identify someone in your life who models win-win thinking. Observe them more closely from this point forward and learn from their example.


Thinking win-win is the type of mindset under which company employees can thrive. When team members want to help each other achieve success and accomplish great things together, it flexes a company’s muscles and helps it to accomplish goals like never before.

Sharing is caring!