Communication Conflict Conversations Dialogue Productivity

What would it look like if you did win?

When arguing, are you truly listening or trying to win the conversation?

There’s a commercial on Dutch TV about the risk of polarization. It’s short, cute, and full of great intentions.

You witness friends and a father and daughter argue over climate and immigrant issues. A voiceover enters the scene and states:

“What will it look like when you win this argument?”

It was followed by making the point that our world is becoming increasingly polarized and that it’s really up to us to do something about it.

The 30″ commercial ends with the two arguers apologizing to each other.


A bit corny, to be honest.

And a waste of tax money, given that it’s a government advertisement. There’s no chance that those people heavily invested in their own beliefs, arguments, and eagerness to polarize are in any way impressed by this commercial.

Not even after running the ad a thousand times.

Those who are already sensitive to the topic, and try to see things from different perspectives, don’t need this ad to try to prevent polarization.

I’m afraid polarization won’t go away, and all the invested ad money is a terrible waste.

Blame social media.

Social media is the main culprit in our polarized society. Algorithms get to know us better than we know ourselves and point us diligently toward the images and messages we want to see.

We get brainwashed without knowing it.

Add a little stress of living and working in a faster and faster-paced world, and the cocktail of brainless arguing is served.

So when arguing, are you truly listening or trying to win the conversation?

Again, what does it look like if you did win?

How great is the satisfaction when you know you’ve countered your conversation partner, who may not be as skilled as you are in bringing their points across?

Are you, therefore, primarily interested in being understood, or do you know the meaning of one of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly Effective people:

“First seek to understand, then to be understood?”

That’s what effective communication is all about — being open to the arguments of your conversation partner and trying to see the merits of their ideas.

Instead, we often hear ourselves say: “you don’t understand.” Only to continue to make our cases with every little argument inside us.

Therefore we live in a win-lose world — a world with limited space for the other party to win.

The question is whether, ultimately, it’s effective.

If your only goal is to win, you may end up with a limited group of people around you. 

I prefer “Win-Win,” another one of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people:

Here’s Steven Covey’s website states about Thinking Win-Win:

“Think Win-Win isn’t about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration.

Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing — if I win, you lose, or if you win, I lose.

Life becomes a zero-sum game.

There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it’s not fair, and I will make sure you don’t get any more. We all play the game, but how much fun is it?

Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one.

Win-win is a frame of mind and heart constantly seeking mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, which tastes good!

To go for a win-win, you not only have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, but you also have to be brave. That balance between courage and consideration is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.”

If we want this world to survive, we must collaborate, not compete.

That’s my key message here.

Your turn: Win-Win?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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