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Posts Tagged ‘Zero Sum Thinking’

Zero Sum Thinking

How to Avoid Zero Sum Thinking

In the business world, a major force in deal dynamics generated from fear is zero sum thinking — the notion that in any transaction, one party’s gain is, by definition, the other party’s loss. This basic premise forms a simplistic foundation for socialism and communism— the premise being that there is a fixed amount of wealth, so if one person has too little others must have too much. The only solution offered by these economic models is to redistribute the wealth from the haves to the have-nots. Capitalism, on the other hand, is based on the premise that people can create wealth through innovation and investment, a non-finite model of wealth and value. The best solution this system can provide is to create opportunities for everyone to become wealthier, or at least less poor.

I do not want to spark a debate over the pros and cons of either system, and I readily acknowledge that the above is very basic differentiation of the models. Perhaps we need a little of both — compassionate capitalism. However, I would like to generate a discussion over zero sum thinking, because I have witnessed its potential for creating discord in business as well as in personal relationships. Whenever we begin to think that someone else is gaining something at our expense, we feel as though we are being cheated. We can even begin to feel this way when we fear that what we stand to gain from a transaction is less than what the other party stands to gain, even when what we stand to gain is what we wanted all along. Oh, the injustice!Zero Sum ThinkingThe question becomes how do we respond in these situations? The typical response is to feel disappointed and perhaps even angry, but that brings us no closer to our objective of getting a fair deal, or the deal we had hoped for when the process started. There are better options to zero sum thinking.

Find the Value

If you begin to fear that someone else is gaining or is about to gain something at your expense, ask yourself: