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Volume 9  Number 8   |  August 2019

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The Other Person's Best Interests

There are three classic techniques to create changed behavior: One is coercion, which only works so long as the big stick is present or until someone acquires an even bigger stick; normative pressure, which means it’s important for someone to be part of the “in crowd” which, by definition, is fickle; and rational self-interest, meaning I change because I see the personal benefits in so doing.

I say “rational” meaning not unethical and not illegal.

Let’s compromise and do it my way

I’ve become very adept at the martial arts of language. If people say, “I would love to enter your coaching program, but I just don’t have the money,” I tell them that’s exactly why they need to join immediately. After all, at this stage of your life if you can’t make an impulse purchase to improve your business then you’re not going to ever be in that position without help.

If a prospect says, “I have too much on my plate at the moment,” I point out that I’m not an additional item on the plate, but that I’m a plate clearer!

No matter how passionate or enthusiastic you are, people aren’t going to be persuaded if it’s apparent that you’re the only one who benefits.

You need to listen between the lines

Forget about reading “between the lines,” listen to what others say to you. Listen for patterns, for repetitions, for different ways of describing the same thing. Those are the issues that the other person wants to improve or from which he or she needs relief.

You need to “latch on” to their priorities to demonstrate that their best interests are met and served by your participation and intervention. Instead of focusing on methodology or credentials, use language like this:

You’re experiencing a loss of talent in a zero unemployment market and you don’t want to disrupt your compensation model trying to retain talent, so you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. I can work with you to not only “cement” your talent but also attract talent from competitors by creating a workplace that empowers people and provides latitude of action without a single additional cent in compensation costs.

That’s a lot better than talking about your “four-step model of hiring, training, and sustaining,” right?


If you become adept at identifying and supporting the other person’s self-interests, you’ll find that your own interests are also always met.

© Alan Weiss 2019

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