How often do you notice people playing this: “I’m Right, You’re Wrong” game? Have you ever wondered why this is so common, especially in more intimate relationships? This problem begins by our culture training us to focus on right-wrong thinking.
The good news is that you can unlearn this power-over approach, and start having more genuine cooperation in your relationships. Sound good? Then please keep reading. Just ahead you’ll find five steps to open the doors that lead beyond “Us Against Them” thinking and into the power of “WE.”
Our life journey has included years of “Us vs. Them” training. Growing up, each step along the way we heard: “It’s a dog-eat-dog world,” “Look out for number one,” “Watch your back,” and other such expressions. These created strong mental habits which govern our thinking as well as our actions. Even in our most loving and trusting relationships, we often end up playing the good-bad, right-wrong games.
One of the essential skills we all learned is how to prove we are right and defend against being proven wrong. This has become very deeply ingrained. It won’t change overnight, and it won’t change just by “wanting” it to.
The only way to begin shifting this way of thinking is to learn something new: skills and understandings that open the door to new possibilities. Your desire for more co-creative relationships is what prepares you to use the first step.
Step 1 – INTENTION
Are you clear about your intentions? Do you know the difference between a strategy and an intention? Knowing this difference is essential. Without this you tend to get stuck wanting other people to agree with your strategies. This can leave people feeling closed and defensive. Even worse, being attached to one particular strategy dramatically limits your opportunities to be satisfied.
One strategy = One opportunity.
On the other hand, a strategy-free intention describes only what you value and the qualities you want to experience in a situation. Starting with pure intention like this is necessary when creating outcomes that will satisfy everyone. Identifying a clear, strategy-free intention is also essential for using the next step.
Step 2 – ALIGNMENT
Is everyone on the same page? Do you want similar results? Establishing alignment is the second step to successful co-creation. In life, we go about our own lives, trying to achieve our own goals, yet we are all still interconnected. This puts limits on how far we can get in achieving our own results without cooperation.
The process of creating alignment starts by getting clear about what is important to everyone. It’s co-creating a shared vision of success. Beginning by learning alignment paves the way for easy agreements and abundant results, which produces far greater satisfaction for everyone. You need alignment to use the next step.
Step 3 – NEGOTIATION
Will you take everyone’s needs into consideration? Will you keep at it until everyone is satisfied? Understanding the difference between negotiation and compromise plays a big part in being willing and able to stick with the process.
Compromise is the way of an “Us Against Them” world. It begins by identifying what everyone wants. Then you see who’s willing to give up parts of what they want until everyone can live with what’s left. This results from having your attention focused on lack, limitation, and fear. It’s based in the belief that there isn’t enough to go around, so you have to settle for or take whatever you can get.
Negotiation is the way in an abundant world. It begins by identifying what everyone values and what is missing for them. Then, while you keep your attention focused on everyone’s values, strategies will emerge that make it possible for everyone to be satisfied, without any compromise needed. Once everyone is satisfied with the strategies, you’re ready to use step number four.
Step 4 – AGREEMENT
What’s the plan? What needs to happen and who’s willing to do what? After everyone’s had their say, people often people think they’ve made agreements. In reality they’ve only expressed vague understandings of what they want, and how they would like that to happen.
Co-creation relies on your ability to make clear, doable requests that lead to definite agreements. Powerful agreements are specific about who, what, when, where, and how. They include a positive confirmation of each person’s willingness to do their part.
Explicit agreements increase your effectiveness and everyone’s satisfaction. Once you’ve made your powerful agreements you’re all set for step number five.
Step 5 – ACCOUNTABILITY
Will your agreements continue to work for everyone? Will they create the results you want? Without accountability you can’t know if your agreements are actually working. If you wait to find out they aren’t working, you may have already built up dangerous levels of frustration, resentment, and resignation.
You create accountability by setting specific times to review how well your agreements are working, and schedule discussions to see what changes might be needed.
These accountability meetings will allow you to continue practicing the 5 steps of co-creation.
1 – Do you still have a clear INTENTION?
2 – Are you still in ALIGNMENT?
3 – Do you need more NEGOTIATION?
4 – Is it time to make new AGREEMENTS?
5 – How will you ensure ongoing ACCOUNTABILITY?
Accountability is the final step that opens the doors to the co-creative power of “WE.”
Now you have all five steps that open the doors improved communication, enhanced intimacy, and genuine partnerships. We hope you choose to learn more about these five steps and commit to practicing them in all of your important relationships.