My newly married grand-daughter, Cali, and her husband, Grayson, bought a house and had their housewarming party recently. The husband’s family is Mormon and did not attend this drinking party which left the two halves of my grand-daughter’s family. Her Dad, my son, did not attend as he was in Europe on business but his side was well represented. Her Mom’s side was also well represented including Cali’s Mom. It was the first time since the marriage break-up six or seven years ago that I have partied with the Mom.
She sought me out at one point to thank me for some teaching I gave her when she was my daughter-in-law. Two stood out for her. If you want to see change, change yourself…her description of my advice and a good one. ‘When you first told me that I thought, no way…I can change someone else. Eventually I got it and use it daily. It changed my life.’ The other occurred on New Year’s Eve a decade ago. The Mom wanted to do something my Son did not want to do and the Mom came to me asking me to mediate using win/win. ‘In win/win no one does anything they don’t want to do,’ was my mediation. ‘I was so mad that day I wanted to punch you…but again, I adopted this as a part of my life and it works.’ This was all awesome feedback as I knew she had been listening but I did not know she was paying attention. She thanked me profusely and we hugged and went on about our partying business.
Cali and Grayson have a renter, his best man at the wedding, and the best man’s girl friend showed up late in the evening. (She had attended another function). She was sober and her boyfriend was very drunk. The party was a shots party with frequent calls for shots taken in a communal fashion with the shots poured out and ceremoniously imbibed. I am a non-drinker so I watched from my perch near the food and noted the rising decibel levels as each round of shots was consumed. All the drunks were friendly and everyone was having a good time but it was clear that the girlfriend felt out of place and did not approve of her boyfriend’s condition or continued participation in the calls for more shots.
The girlfriend joined me at the food table and the Mom came along to announce me as the purveyor of wisdom, especially as it relates to win/win. The girlfriend took her seriously and asked my win/win opinion re: her evening with her drunk boyfriend.
We had a lovely talk as she grazed at the food table and covered the key aspects of the situation. I have done a lot of drinking in my time and asked why she wanted to prevent her boyfriend from further drinking on this occasion. The relationship is fairly new and this is the first time she has seen him drunk…she was fearing the unknown more than anything else as she did not know what to expect. Let him do as he wants was my primary advice and join in or not as per your wishes. She was very quick on the uptake. As the conversation was winding down I said, ‘The key to win/win interactions is that no one does anything they don’t want to do.’ Others intruded at that point and we went our separate ways.
I love watching people and watched the boyfriend/girlfriend interactions after our conversation. The love they share was back and their interactions were once again harmonious. She is a quick study.
I read about win/win in Covey’s 7 Habits book sometime in the nineties and took the intention of adopting win/win as my way of interacting with others and the world. Shortly thereafter, my wife declined my invitation to come with me for my annual Christmas visit. This shocked me as it had been our practice, but I decided to apply win/win principles to the situation. Clearly it would not be a win for my wife to accompany me on this occasion so I had to honour her choice. How could I ‘win’ within that acceptance? That was much easier than I had imagined. Once I got over the shock, I found I could be happy visiting my family on my own and it came to me that the essence of win/win was that ‘no one does anything they do not want to do.’
I have lived my life in accordance with this principle ever since. Awesome way to live a life.
Freedom for humanity…