Their Reasons, Not Yours

It is possible, perhaps even common, to get the desired behavior from another person for reasons completely different from your own. I offer this without commentary on what it might mean morally, or psychologically, merely as an observation.

When I was about 14 years old I wanted a job at a radio station. The problem is, the radio station wasn't hiring. I hit upon the strategy of showing up with annoying regularity day after day, asking for some kind of job. Apparently the annoying part of my strategy worked: the manager of the radio station finally stopped in the lobby where I was waiting when they, looked at me and said, “if I give you a job, would you stop bugging me?”

I got what I wanted; he got what he wanted. Just not for the same reasons.

In the end, did the reasons matter? My point (and, with apology to Ellen Degeneres, I do have one) is that we should never confuse our own motivation for the other person's motivation. Thinking about what motivates the other person in any negotiation is almost always a more effective basis for that negotiation.

Even though we may feel our reasons to be superior to those of the other party, our reasons are not the same as theirs.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • donniebryant

    Funny, Les Brown has a similar radio station story.

    More to the point, your comments on motivation are profoundly true. Salespeople of all stripes often forget (or maybe they never learned) that people make purchases for their own reasons, not for the reasons of the salesperson.

    I always shake my head when one individual asks another to do something for them, “cuz I really need it,” or “I have bills to pay,” or whatever.

    Sure, sympathy may have it's place, but I always wonder how much more could be accomplished with a little salesmanship. “Do this for me, and you'll get this benefit in return.”

    • I've never head Les's radio story — but now I gotta try and find it! Thanks for the tip.

  • I must say your little words of wisdom are really inspiring. What I don't understand is how you can find new valuable advice to send every single day, I would run out of ides after a week.

    • Thanks for your kind words. I bet you'd have more ideas than you suspect… I simply decided one day, “I'm going to write something every day”. And then I started doing it. I count on God for the ideas!

  • Mike

    That's a great lesson Ray. We all need to remember that when we are negotiating or writing “you'll get what you want if you help enough other people get what they want” (a quote from Zig Ziggler).
    Most people don't know it but everything we do in life is sales. We're always trying to sell our ideas, products or services to someone else, or get them to do something for us, and the best way to do that is to help them get what they want.

    Ask people what they want…ml