Win/Win Situations

A really interesting learning moment out of one of my Conflict Resolution Workshops last week…

It was my last session with a group of Primary 7 pupils at Flora Stevenson’s primary school in Edinburgh and after 7 weeks of working together I asked them what they remembered. The idea that seemed to resonate with them the most was the concept of creating win/win situations with others, rather than competing and forcing someone into a losing position. Identifying themselves as naturally competitive, they found this new way of thinking to be a great alternative and were giving me plenty of examples of times where they had tried to create win/win situations in school and at home.

As this was the last session I wanted to make sure it was a fun and interesting session, to end on a high note. I asked them to split into teams and in the spirit of shows such as ‘Dragons Den’ and ‘Shark Tank’ to create an invention that helps people resolve conflict and then pitch it to the class teacher and myself who would decide on the best one and award a small prize to the winning team. Enthusiastically they jumped at the chance and set off to create some amazing inventions, coincidentally each invention involved an app which offered alternative suggestions for things to say when in conflict.

However, the really interesting bit happened when after delivering the pitches the teacher and I were interrupted in our deliberations by a few of the young people. Their point, eloquently made, was that after so much discussion about collaboration, teamwork and win/win scenarios it didn’t seem fair to end the programme with a competition, forcing two of the three groups into a ‘losing’ position.

The teacher and I were blown away. These ten year olds had seen something that we had not seen, connected dots laid down over 8 weeks and showcased not only had they listened to the lessons on offer but they had completely understood and were able to apply them on the spot. Of course it was unfair to end on a competition, of course it was anti-antithetical to the whole point of the programme.

They politely but firmly demanded to be allowed to create a win/win situation and split the prize (chocolates, naturally) among the whole group including myself and the class teacher. I handed the sweets over, they calmly lined up and fairly distributed the sweets and we all walked away with a smile on their faces. Win/Win.

Except for me who now has to plan a whole new final lesson!


That sounds like a great workshop and a great group of pupils…which has prompted my reply. Working as a family mediator, when there is conflict in families and I am meeting with those involved, I get input from both young people and their parents/carers. It is my experience that when solutions are being discussed, it is very often the young people who create better options and solutions…more win/win situations. Although young people can lack experience, they tend not to overcomplicate things and often have a clarity when looking at situations, that their parents/carers have long lost. So perhaps we should all be listening much more to our young people? They are the future!


I love this. What a fantastic example of really living the values of mediation and conflict resolution. Its one thing to learn and to understand these ideas but then to live these or integrate these ideas in our own lives can be more tricky!

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