Isn’t Method III the Same as Win-Win?

Method III (the name of the problem solving concept in the Gordon Model) is based on a very different set of assumptions than the power-based methods:

• The needs of each party are considered to be of equal importance.

• The problem is approached from a needs standpoint, not a solution standpoint.

• Power is never used except in extreme emergencies.

As illustrated here, the posture of both parties, whether power is equal or unequal, is democratic and concerned with the needs of each — saying in effect, “Let’s work together for a solution that meets your needs and meets my needs. Both of us will win, no one will be a resentful loser.”

compromise win conflict resolutionThe main advantage of the Method III approach is that it enhances rather than harms the relationship. No one loses; instead both win. Feelings of resentment and unfairness are thus eliminated from problem solving and replaced by mutual respect and concern for the needs of all parties.

Many people, who are uncomfortable with the results of either Method I or Method II, turn to an additional option, compromise. While neither person loses, they don’t really win – either both try to win as much as possible and lose as little as possible. This approach is often confused with the Gordon Model alternative, “No Lose Problem Solving”, or “Method III”.

In a compromise, both people can feel dissatisfied and the solution may become a wall between the two. A compromise solution is actually made up of trade offs and promises and each watches very carefully to be sure that the other does not disregard his/her pieces of this solution. Usually it involves “buying and selling” solutions and needs are often not even identified. Win-lose concerns and feelings often remain.

In Method III, the first big difference is attitude – there is a genuine desire for a win-win solution which both will be happy with. The second important difference is that needs come before solutions. The needs of both are identified and clarified before solutions are even considered.

Skeptical? Most people feel that way upon first being introduced to this concept. But this evidence-based method is a very real, and practical way of getting what everybody needs every time a conflict arises . Try it for yourself – we’re pretty sure you’ll be surprised.


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