I enjoyed the SNL opening this past weekend, which pokes fun at the last-minute agreement Congress reached to avoid a government shutdown. The sketch refers to all the unhappy people involved in the agreement (a lose-lose), and stands in stark satirical contrast to the type of decision making we promote at Power of Two: Win-Win.
Conventional wisdom says that marriages only work because of compromise. Dr. Heitler, on the other hand, argues that skilled couples can resolve any conflict in a way that makes both people feel truly happy, using a technique called win-win decision making. With win-win decision making, couples dig beneath surface-level initial positions to discover the underlying concerns that are feeding their conflict. Once both people understand the underlying emotions, fears and desires that are supporting each other’s initial positions, they find solutions that satisfy ALL of the concerns on the table.
Its amazing how creative thinking can generate a set of solutions (complicated problems usually require multiple solution components) that makes both people happy.
Alternatively a compromise leaves both parties feeling like they sacrificed something they wanted, and end up only partially happy. Compromises may be necessary in the volatile and cynical world of politics, however in a marriage two individuals can find a surprising amount of common ground if they separate initial positions from underlying concerns, and think creatively about mutually satisfying solutions.