A few guidelines for lose-lose situations

The following guidelines may be helpful if you think you’re in a lose-lose situation. These assume you’re sure it’s a lose-lose situation (not just that you haven’t seen the win-win solution right in front of you), a situation in which win-win isn’t possible and win-lose outcomes are at best Pyrrhic victories.

  1. When facing a lose-lose situation, the first rule is not to raise the costs while you’re figuring it out. Don’t make it a “lose more-lose more” situation.
  2. The second rule is to try to lower the costs. Do everything you can to make it a “lose less-lose less” situation.
  3. When you finally have to decide which way to go in a lose-lose situation, think carefully about the laws, rules, processes, guidelines, and norms that apply. Assuming there are laws, rules, processes, guidelines, and norms that apply to the situation, follow those and let them determine how you lose. In other words, lose by the rules.

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