Communication Skills

The difference between WAA and WOO and why you must know this

If this topic sounds plain woo-ey, it isn’t. In fact, it’s the difference between enjoying the respect and results you want, and wondering why you missed out on both.

WAA stands for Winning An Argument. It’s the way losers think. They want to others to accept their point of view and win an argument. It’s loser thinking because when someone wins, someone has to lose. And that someone is usually the person who is responsible for giving you the result you want. Put them down, beat them up, show them you’re right (and they’re wrong) and you aren’t likely to get the best result.

When we go for WAA, we act as (bad) parents might. We use authority to force our opinion – or maybe our weapon of choice is sarcasm,  blame,  intimidation. We often feel self-rightous going for WAA, after all, we are the parent or the authority and we have rights. It’s a classic example of winning the battle and losing the war (even though I really dislike war analogies, this one works here because people who want to WAA see an enemy or opposing force to be conquered [operations has to beat sales, sales has to beat R & D, parent has to overcome the rebellious teenager, etc]).

WOO, on the other hand, Winning Others Over, is an entirely different mindset. Rather than trying to be right, we try to determine how we can invite them to buy into our opinion. Rather than forcing our views on them, we work on listening and learning more about the way they see things. Then, we align our message with their needs.

Here is the really important thing: Whether we’re right (the “facts” are on our side) or not, if our intention is to get our way, we never win. Telling another person – and this doesn’t matter if it’s our son or daughter, colleague, boss or customer – that they are wrong and that we are right (the words may sound different, but the intention is there) will not yield the best results. Period. Helping them to feel right, helping them to feel safe and smart, helping them to continue talking about their point of view, enables great conversations and better results.

Who do you need to WOO today?

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