“I REALLY need this job. No.. seriously, you don’t understand, I’m in a really bad place and this is my way out! Please hire me… PLEASE!”
“OK, I’ve sent you 3 emails, 4 texts, and left you 6 voicemails — why won’t you get back to me about the money I’m asking to borrow?”
“I’m not writing a single line of code until you agree to pay me what I think I’m worth to you.”
How are these approaches working out for you? Not too well? Didn’t think so.
Let’s start the festivities with a quick exercise, shall we?
Step back for a second and do a quick evaluation of all of your current relationships, business and personal. While you’re going down this mental (or Facebook) list of people, ask yourself a single question and answer it honestly:
What do THEY most likely think about ME right now?
- On a number scale, how much do they like me?
- Do they initiate contact with me more than I do them?
- Do they generally listen to me and respect what I have to say?
- Do they feel like I need them, more than they need me?
- Any chance they might think I’m needy or desperate?
- What’s the likelihood they’d come through for me in a time of need (or want)?
It’s much more common to think about how WE feel about THEM day-to-day, and so, rarely do people actually practice this exercise.
Many of you go to the other extreme and might even say “I don’t give a shit how other people feel about me, I am who I am.” Which is essentially a cop out — an excuse to act as you wish without regard for others, and a lot of times, like a jackass.
So what’s the point?
If you spend more time thinking about and actively improving how others feel about you, your needs will be fulfilled far more often.
Of course, life is about more than our needs & wants, but for the sake of brevity let’s just assume that it’s all you really care about anyway.
You’re SO self-centered, GAWD, stop it!
Kidding aside — It’s nice to get what you need, isn’t it?
It’s totally awesome to:
- get hired on the spot at that perfect job.
- have a friend recognize you’re in trouble and offer to help on their own accord
- raise that round of funding you desperately need
- get paid what you’re worth, instead of what they can “afford”
- [fill in the blank]
If you want to know how NOT to get these things, start by being that person at the very beginning of this post.
Let me give you a real example — actually, THE example that caused this post to be written in the first place.
Not too long ago, I walked into an executive role at a 6 month old startup that hadn’t launched yet. They were close… maybe two-months out from the big day, but still didn’t have much in the way of organization or employees yet. They did have a couple folks on board who I wasn’t thrilled with though. And it was my job to build our team, direct the completion of our product(s), and get us launched and into revenue.
There was one person in particular, an evangelist of sorts, who’s job was to build followers and buzz around the launch of the product. We’ll call him Big Bird — because if there’s one thing Mr. Romney and I actually have in common, it’s that we don’t care much for giant yellow talking birds. (I do love PBS however)
Mr. Bird had done absolutely nothing productive prior to my arrival, nor had he been paid anything yet. In our first conversation, he did immediately enlighten me about all of the promises the co-founders had made him about his role at the company, and about how much he was to be paid.
I didn’t think Big was a good fit for the culture I wanted to build, and I was very skeptical about his ability to deliver.
I wasted no time.
The next day, I very clearly told him about my reservations. He was not an employee yet, but he knew exactly what we wanted from him in order to become one. I gave him two weeks to prove me wrong, then we would reconnect and make a decision about his future, or lack thereof with our startup.
What did he do?
Complained. The. Whole. Time.
He begged to be paid. He complained about broken promises. He went around my back to the founders and asked them to manage him instead of me.
One morning, I kid you not, I received over TEN phone calls in a row, 30 seconds apart, all with voicemails from him. He followed this up, like a true crazy-girlfriend would, with several long texts — explaining that his bills were due and he needed money desperately, and was pissed that nobody was answering his communications.
All the while, he still hadn’t done a lick of verifiable good for the company, and knew I was waiting for him to show me something.
This guy needed us more than we needed him, which is extremely unattractive — and it made it very easy for me to tell him to look elsewhere. In the end, he didn’t get what he wanted because he never thought about how WE perceived HIM and his actions.
Of course, this is a very extreme example, and I’m not insinuating that any of you are even capable of handling yourself like he did.
BUT – And this is important! — WE ALL do similarly damaging things to some degree, at times that we shouldn’t.
- We ask for things, when we should be giving them
- We request our worth, when we should be proving it
- We display our desperation, instead of acting to fix and prevent it
Big Bird SHOULD have immediately started working to impress my socks off. He should have tried desperately to make himself completely indispensable and irreplaceable with results — not with requests. To fulfill his own needs, he should have shown that he could fulfill the company’s needs first. His bill collectors would have thanked him.
The things you do, and the relationships you need to focus on are for you to discover and work on.
I hope this will help with that discovery.
BONUS: Since we’re focusing on NEEDS & WANTS today…
Here’s a two-part trick that you can use to get what you need or want out of people more often
- Take the last 5 people that you asked for something from, even if it was incredibly small, and go do something for them NOW, even if what you do is incredibly small too.
- Write them a recommendation on Linked In
- or drop them a thank-you card for coming to your party
- or a flower in return for that back rub you asked for.
- ANYTHING – just use good judgement
- Next, identify 5 people that you appreciate, that are important, or that you can imagine being important in your life someday — and proactively do something for them, out of the blue, that they’ll appreciate. Even if they’re just acquaintances.
- Send them tickets to an event they like
- or refer them a sale or promising prospect
- or give them a voucher for your service, free, no strings
- or pay attention to their social channels and be the first to provide something valuable when they ask for it
Repeat these two steps often, and make it a permanent part of your life.
Does anyone in your life consistently force you to feel really good about them, and/or their work? Pretty cool feeling huh? Sound off about it in the comments below.