Dangers Of The Win-Lose Mindset
A win-lose mindset is a sure-fire signal that I’m not going to like somebody.
That sounds presumptive, but the more that I think about it, the clearer the pattern becomes.
People who are happy to win at the expense of those around them aren’t my kind of people.
You’ve probably felt this yourself – interactions where another person is perfectly happy for you to end up worse-off in order for them to win.
It might be:
· A used car salesperson hiding serious issues that are guaranteed to flare up eventually.
· An old acquaintance recruiting you into a pyramid scheme.
· A bank manager signing you up for unnecessary insurance products (the recent Royal Commission has exposed this in almost every financial institution).
· A colleague taking credit for your work in order to gain a promotion.
· A colleague throwing you under the bus in order to avoid scrutiny.
In each of these scenarios, the other party tends to either withhold critical information from you, or withholds critical information about you, in order to force a result that wouldn’t otherwise occur.
e.g. If all the facts were on the table, you wouldn’t buy the product, or they wouldn’t get the promotion.
The opposite of this approach is the win-win mindset, the idea that both parties can end up with pleasing outcomes.
This tends to come through clever design and reduced levels of greed – sacrificing a short term bonus for long term credibility.
e.g. If the car salesman leads you to a great car, you’ll probably go back in the future or recommend the dealership to a friend.
If your colleague gives you fair credit, you both end up looking good.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Skin In The Game talks about this issue and it’s solution – symmetrical rewards and consequences.
Symmetrical consequences mean that a person giving you advice is tied to the outcome of their advice – giving them “skin in the game”.
That makes them less likely to spin stories or make recommendations that aren’t in the customers’ interests.
For example, in ancient Greece an architect would stand under his newly built bridge as the scaffolding was removed – if the bridge fails, it’s literally on his head.
This is also known as “dogfooding” in the startup world – the idea that a business owner should be willing to “eat their own dogfood” as evidence of its quality.
If you’re not willing to use the products and services you sell, why should your customers be any different?
I’ve found this approach helpful when it comes to selling.
As the person who delivers workshops, accelerators and larger projects, it is massively in my interest to ensure that we’re the right fit for our customers.
If we’re not the right fit, I am the person who has to deal with the upset customer, and it is incredibly unpleasant.
It feels a bit like a tandem skydive - if I’m claiming it’s safe, I should be willing to jump with you.
Some of my former colleagues have not shared this approach.
They’ve said whatever it takes to “make the sale”, but aren’t involved in the delivery of the goods.
Customers inevitably realise the mismatch between what was sold and what was delivered, and end up as net detractors of the business.
The business might gain some cash in the short term, but unhappy customers become expensive over the long run.
A good question to ask is: Will this customer be glad that they bought from us?
If you genuinely believe that they will, then sales become so much easier.
You can speak from the heart with passion, empathy and relevant examples, which all make you persuasive.
If you’re not sure, it might be time to re-evaluate your customers, products, services and prices.
Sometimes you have a skewed perspective that can be corrected, and sometimes you need to improve the offer.
Either way, customer interviews will be useful.
If you are confident that they will regret the purchase and proceed anyway, you’re a jerk.
People who are happy with a win-lose situation tend to become toxic in all facets of life.
They are bad friends, bad employees, bad business owners and bad romantic partners.
Not at first, but it’s only a matter of time.
If they are willing to spill the secrets of others, they’ll probably spill yours.
If they complain about others behind their backs, they’ll do the same about you.
If they misrepresent your business to customers, they’ll misrepresent reality to you.
If they are willing to bend workplace laws or sell questionable products, they’ll probably treat you in a questionable manner.
If they say anything to win you romantically, then they’re probably not looking to create a relationship based on trust.
This commitment to win-win solutions also applies to all facets of life.
By applying skin in the game thinking to your work, you create situations that incentivise your team to please customers.
e.g. if their performance reviews incorporate customer satisfaction scores and feedback, they’re likely to ensure that customers are happy with their purchase.
When selling, ask yourself “What would it take for me to feel comfortable selling this to a family member?”
This prompts you to think of solutions rather than just restating the problem, and makes use of “Can-If” thinking.
Symmetrical rewards and consequences help form new habits.
e.g. “I will cut out processed sugars, if I do the reward is X and if I don’t the punishment is Y”
They also help offer assurance to reluctant friends.
e.g. “If you try this and aren’t convinced, I’ll give you Z”
Transparency makes you a more honest and accountable person.
e.g. when talking about others, ask yourself “would I say this if they were in the room?”
This is also known as the Herald Sun test – would I be happy for this conversation/decision to be plastered across the front page of the newspaper?
These tricks aren’t perfect, but they help you avoid win-lose situations.
When there’s so many choices and so many review mechanisms available, being trustworthy is more important than ever.