Communication Skills/Win-Win: When Impossible


Mr. Gerlach,

When is a win-win solution impossible as a conflict resolution tool?  I don't want to waste energy and get frustrated unnecessarily brainstorming and insisting on win-win solutions.  Please note that the less frustrated I get with coming up with win-win solutions, the more confidence and success I'll achieve when setting my mind to this task.

Hi Yaakov. In my opinion, "win-win" is a desirable communication outcome in a conflictual situation. not a "tool." To achieve this goal, all people involved must (1) respect each other's needs and feelings equally, (2) know their current needs, and (3) know how and when to use appropriate communication skills.  //

In situations where your communication partner lacks these two requisites, a win-win outcome is unlikely or - as you say - impossible. In such cases, strive to communicate in a way that preserves your integrity (self respect) and - if appropriate - offers respectful feedback to your partner. One effective way of doing this is to give the other person a respectful "I-message" (assertion) about how their current attitude and/or behavior affects you: //

If they're receptive, doing this can lead to a win-win shift in the way you communicate and can strengthen your relationship.

To improve your communication  outcomes, I encourage you to study online "lesson 2":

If you have further questions, please ask! - Pete

Communication Skills

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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about how to significantly improve your thinking and communication effectiveness, and your relations with adults and kids. I cannot answer legal, medical, grammar, punctuation, spelling, or spiritual questions.


I have studied and taught communication and relationship skills for 40 years, and have been a professional family-systems therapist (MSW) since 1981.


I am a past Board member of (a) a large suburban community mental-health center and (b) the Stepfamily Association of America, and I am a current member of the National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council

I have published 6 books, including one on communication skills: Satisfactions ( 2nd ed., 2010); and over 150 articles in the nonprofit educational Website Break the Cycle! -

I have also published articles for and over 150 educational YouTube videos.

BSME, Stanford University, 1959 MSW, George Williams College 1981 Clinical internship U. of Illinois Institute for Juvenile Reasearch (IJR) 1981 Over 100 post-grad courses on a wide range of human-relationship topics

Past/Present Clients
over 1,000 self-referred Midwestern-U.S. adults, kids, couples, and families

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