The Conflict Outcomes Matrix

The four alternative results you can realize in any conflict

There are four outcomes that can result from a conflict between the two main protagonists, depending who ‘wins’ and who ‘loses’.

The Conflict Outcomes Matrix

  1. Win-Win: Both parties “Win.” You both know you have achieved what you needed, but not at the expense of the other. This provides a good basis for a long-term relationship.
  2. Win-Lose: The others win at your expense. You have given up something and got nothing, or less than you should, in return. This is a short term scenario as you will find out about this, and it will greatly reduce the level of trust between you and the other party. 
  3. Lose-Win: Here you win at the others expense. Again, this is a short-term result as the others will lose trust in you.
  4. Lose-Lose: You both lose. Neither one of you feels good about what happened, and you are likely to have only achieved a temporary cessation in conflict.

Creating a “Win-Win” is not just about achieving a satisfactory conclusion to the conflict, but to create a solid basis from which to build a long-term relationship.  This does not mean there will be no future conflict, but rather that the level of conflict is both appropriate and constructive (no conflict creates stagnation and an inability to change).  In doing this you create trust, better relationships, and improved productivity and performance.

Achieving a “Win-Win” is a conscious and active decision, you need to think about specific actions you can take in your particular situation to manage and progress the conflict situation towards a ‘Win-Win’. A good way to do this is to ask this one question, but stress it in3 different ways:

  • What can I do to assure Win-Win? (this stresses reality)
  • What can Ido to assure Win-Win? (this stresses personal responsibility)
  • What can I do to assure Win-Win? (this stresses action)

The Conflict Outcomes Matrix does not give you all the answers, but it helps you to position where you currently are and what you need to do to progress the situation.

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