Getting Our Way

As a first post of 2014, a reader recommended that I talk about how we might improve our chances of getting what we want this year.  As most of us know, our chance of attaining our own wants and needs relates closely to others realizing their desires as well.  Put simply, mutually beneficial transactions provide the basis for our success.

Every interaction we engage in with someone else should incorporate and specify the balance of benefit.  The person we want to cooperate should understand, at least in basic sense, what both parties will receive as part of the interaction.   Although the idea sounds simple, most of us fail to communicate the balance due to three core factors:

What I Value, You Value

A common personal validation mechanism is to commit to an idea or course of action after identifying how beneficial it will be to others.  In other words, I convince myself of the idea’s value by thinking of all of the ways it not only helps me, but others as well.  How many times have you heard a leader claim, “This is the best for us all?”  Although the universalism of the idea may make perfect sense in our own mind, others may view it very differently.

Love of Our Idea

Although the simplicity, beauty, or brilliance of an idea might appeal to us, the real question that any other party wants to ask is “what is in it for me?”  Polite society teaches us not to ask that directly, but the question is always there.  Someone can really like your idea and see its value, but this does not cancel that fact that all value begins with the person considering the idea.

Action Outweighs Consensus

As leaders, action tends to overshadow consensus out of a need to manage time and resources.  However, the need to move things forward, can lead to our efforts failing.  When seeking to demonstrate the merits of supporting an idea or action, involvement matters.  The more one shares in the creation or decision process, the more likely it will be supported by those affected.

Based on these common weaknesses when working to get what you want, here are a few helpful guidelines:

  • Make sure everyone sees the value of participation and support;
  • Focus on what your participants value, not what you value in making your case;
  • Ensure that there is a short-term value to each party’s support;
  • Be realistic about pros and cons of your desire; and
  • Understand the areas of disagreement and devise methods of reducing the cost to others.
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