“I’ve got to tell you what happened to me last night!” a friend gushes, then goes on in detail about the incident. And what are you thinking while she’s talking? “Oh you think that’s amazing, one time I…” or “Wow, that’s incredible. That reminds me of the time I…” and off you go, relating right back to number 1 – you! Our egos just have to get our story out. It’s not about one upping your friend; it’s just that being self-centered is our human nature and hard to override.
It’s great to be thinking about others, but we are wired to think primarily about ourselves. All the time. Unconsciously and automatically. It’s simply a matter of survival; if we don’t put ourselves first we risk get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger, more figuratively than literally today, but you get my drift.
So how does this translate in our 21st century world? “Mary is doing a really good job” the (saber-tooth) boss comments, comments that have no bearing to you. And how do you react? “I wonder if he thinks that I’m doing an equally good job..? He never mentioned the fabulous report I did last week.” WIIFM, even when the comments are not directed to us at all. That’s just the way our minds work. We can’t help but to mentally turn everything around to be about us.
Knowing this about people, it’s logical that when we communicate with others, we should keep this in mind – the other person is always thinking in terms of their own interests. If they can’t see a connection to them, they have a hard time caring. Starving children in Africa? I don’t feel a direct connection so it’s easy to resist the appeal to donate. And people certainly won’t spend any of their limited time on anything that’s not relevant to their interests. Even if it really is relevant, but they can’t see it. Make the connection and you make the ‘sale’.
So how do you get and keep someone’s attention, especially someone in business that you are trying to persuade? How do you get them to care about your message? Make the message all about them, the impact of your message on their life, and then keep the focus on them. How do they benefit? What does that feel like? Keep talking about that connection and keep the discussion from their perspective to keep them attentive. Not a bit easy, given our own basic nature, but it’s important if you want to persuade and influence successfully. Keep reminding yourself that it’s all about them, all the time, and you will be fabulously successful in getting what you want. Kinda works in reverse, but it does work.
Next time the topic is: texting– when to best use this prevalent communication tool.
WIIFM exercise: what’s in it for the other person to take your phone call/meet with you/answer your email? Leave a comment on how you get attention and keep the focus on them.