The next topic we will help you understand to teach your students decision-making skills is how to reach a win-win decision. A win-win decision is a deal that satisfies both sides in a negotiation. Many decisions today end in win-win situations. Win-win negotiating looks out for one’s  interests while practicing honesty and respect to the other person. Win-win negotiating leads us to be more satisfied with our decisions.


Let’s discuss how you can teach your students to reach a win-win decision:

  1. The three approaches to decision making
  2. Explore all options
  3. Leave out your emotions
  4. Know your counterpart
  5. Make a list of outcomes

The three approaches to decision making

Teach your students that there are several approaches to any problem. You can choose to control the situation and force your solution on others so that you win and they lose; you can defer to the other person without doing anything to influence the process, assuming that their solution is right; or you can believe there is a solution that allows everyone to win. This is called the win-win approach. If you examine each of the three possibilities, you can see that the first approach is one of aggression, the second is one of deference, and the third approach is based on your being an assertive person.

Let’s take a closer look at aggression, deference and assertion. Here are important concepts to teach your students:

  1. Aggression – When you take an aggressive approach, you control the situation and force your solution on others. In this way, you ensure that you win and they lose.
  2. Deference – When you take a deferring approach, you do nothing to influence the process. You simply assume that the other person will make the right decision and go along with whatever he or she decides.
  3. Assertion – When you take an assertive approach to decision making, you believe that there is a solution that allows everyone to win. You do not take control and force your solution on others, and you do not defer to the other person. People who make assertive decisions are known as assertive people. They achieve their objectives without hurting others.

Ask your students to identify a time where they acted with aggression, deference and/or assertion.

Explore all options

When we don’t find win-win solutions, it’s usually because we didn’t explore all of the options. We often don’t spend enough time looking for a correct solution. Teach your students they should explore all the options and solutions that could work to end the deal in a mutually satisfying way.  Here are several steps to help them explore their options:

  1. Start by ensuring that both parties agree to work together.
  2. Each party states his or her goal clearly. Each party helps the other understand the motivation for his or her goal.
  3. Use your creativity to generate solutions.  Weigh the pros and cons of solutions that you both come up with.
  4. When you find a solution that best serves both parties, put the solution in practice.

The most important step in this process is step three–generating solutions. By putting enough effort into this step of the process, both parties will end up more satisfied because the outcome is more likely to be mutually satisfying.

stressed student

Leave out your emotions

Our stress and negative emotions can cloud the decision making process. We can feel a fear of losing or feel the anxiety of never finding a solution. We may also feel anger toward a person whose interests clash with yours. All of these emotions can cloud our judgment and creativity, which are important aspects to finding a win-win solution.

In order to find an appropriate solution and come up with a win-win decision, teach your students to leave their negative emotions out of the deal. Teach them to:

  • First recognize that your negative emotions are taking over and sabotaging the process of finding a solution.
  • Change your negative thoughts to positive ones. This is the only way you will change your inner-self talk and be able to think positively.
  • Continue on to find a satisfying solution.

Know your counterpart

Teach your students to know their counterpart, the person with whom they are negotiating, very well before entering into a long-term relationship. Here are some tips to share with your students:

  • Remember that the people you are dealing with are more important than any paperwork.
  • Make sure that you can trust your counterpart. This will help you to avoid unpleasant disagreements in the future.
  • If you don’t know the other party, spend some time finding out what you can so that you enter into the process with factual information.  
  • Talk to other people, check references, and look for information on the person or company ahead of time.

Make a list of outcomes

Another part of reaching a win-win decision involves making a list of outcomes. Have your students do this before the negotiating starts. That way, when they are generating solutions, they’ll have an idea of outcomes that are and are not acceptable. In a negotiation, it can be easy to forget about your own goals for the sake of finding and agreeing to a solution.

Thank you for tuning into our post on negotiation. If you would like to learn more about teaching success skills to your students, sign up for a free soft skills webinar here.