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No. 33 – What’s In It For Them?

July 20, 2011

In our typical, “What’s in it for me?” world, our main concern in communications is often to get our own needs met. Furthermore, we want our needs met first and fast in keeping with the current hectic pace of our lives. We don’t have time to think about the needs of others, at least not until we have reduced our own stresses and increased our comfort level. Consequently, our usual approach with others is to demand or ask for actions to meet our needs. After all, we have demands on us, deadlines to meet, and items to check off on our to-do list. And then, we are frustrated by other’s lack of response and consideration for our needs and pressures.

Is There An Answer?

Yes! The next time you want someone to change their behavior to meet your needs, try asking yourself, “What’s in it for them?” What stresses or frustrations are they dealing with? What time pressures are on their to-do list? Will meeting your needs bring them closer to or further away from meeting their needs?

Asking these kinds of questions of yourself (or even of the other person) often leads to insights for approaches that reduce stress and meet the needs of both of you. For example, as an RSO you are responsible for security of radioactive materials. But, you know that researchers do not like to be hassled about keeping doors locked. What’s in it for these researchers is how to continue the use of radioactive materials and avoid security frustrations. An answer that might meet the needs of the researchers, and your needs to meet license requirements, could be to talk to the researcher about storing the radioactive materials from several rooms or labs in a single locked room or locked refrigerator or freezer.

Asking yourself “What’s in it for them?” will often result in faster, easier, ways to achieve your goals. While, at the same time, you create an environment that encourages cooperation and mutual support for meeting each other’s needs. Try it!

This concludes a series of three posts that emphasize putting yourself in the other person’s shoes first as a basis for improving results in meeting your needs for communication. Next time we will look at what to do if the other person is very difficult and reluctant to respond to your needs.

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