Win the battle and then the war
“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
Ronald Reagan
If you find you’re butting heads with colleagues over the smallest details, maybe launching on the attack because something doesn’t agree 100% with you, or struggling to connect with a certain person – it might be time to re-evaluate your approach.
Sunzi was a Chinese military general and strategist of the Eastern Zhou period and wrote in the Art of War, that war necessitates the loss of lives and resources. The greatest victory though is to defeat the enemy without ever having to fight them. War then is the last resort and all peaceful routes to a solution should be exhausted before entering into conflict.
Taking Sunzi’s metaphor from the literal battlefield to the battlefields of the meeting room, the office or the photocopier – the message is clear or should I say the challenge to us all is clear – have we searched for a peaceable solution with the same vigour as we’re commonly launching into attacks? From my point of view and from experiences of managing people – the answer is often – not enough.
If you’re courageous enough to recognise that negotiations aren’t going well or you’re not making progress on the areas of biggest gain, then here’s a suggestion.
Look for the win-win
There is always one – trust me, if you haven’t found it, then you haven’t found it yet
We’re hard wired to avoid losing more than we love winning, where perceived loss triggers learned helplessness. When conflicts arise, first seek the win-win outcome. Finding the shared agreement allows you to build from that point. This approach nurtures psychological safety in others by turning conflict into collaboration and allows you to make progress.
Win the battles and the war – by looking for the peaceable solution first!
*Even in sport where the win-win is seemingly impossible the loser must always seek the learning from the losing situation.

About steveingham

Dr Steve Ingham is one of the UK’s leading figures in sport and one of the world’s leading performance scientists. He is steeped in high performance and has been integral to the development of Britain into an Olympic superpower. He has provided support to over 1000 athletes, of which over 200 have achieved World or Olympic medal success, including some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. Steve has coached Kelly Sotherton's running for heptathlon and to 4x400m Olympic medal winning success. Steve has worked at the English Sports Council British Olympic Association, English Institute of Sport, where Steve was the Director of Science and Technical Development, leading a team of 200 scientists in support of Team GB and Paralympics GB. Ingham holds a BSc, PhD and is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Steve is author of the best selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The art of applying science to the elite athlete’, discussing and inspiring the importance of learning and adapting to reach our maximum potential. Steve established Supporting Champions with the ambition of helping ambitious people to find a better way of creating high-performance. Steve hosts the Supporting Champions Podcast on sharing his pursuit of understanding and exploration in performance.

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