Here’s a simple trick for getting more people to give you what you want: think about what they want and give it to them.
It’s such easy advice that it’s a wonder how many people forget to put it into practice when they’re pursuing something they want. But they do.
The other day, for example, I was reviewing some applications for a scholarship to a high level philosophy conference. The young people applying are some of the smartest kids out there in their age group. They should know by now that the best way to get what you want is to frame your wants in terms of what other people want.
And yet, when asked to answer the question “why should we award you a scholarship,” none of them did this. Instead, they all wrote about how amazing they are and how much it would help them if they got to attend the conference. They described only what they want, as if the other person in the transaction does not even exist.
I’m not saying that this can’t work. Basically everybody everywhere does this and humans still manage to achieve their ends. Scholarships to the conference still need to be given out and these young people are the best and brightest that applied, so they will get the scholarships.
But imagine for a moment if an applicant had decided to answer the question in terms of what he thinks the conference hosts want to get from awarding these scholarships. Instead of talking about his intelligence and how much he’s excited to learn new things at the conference, he might instead tell them that they should give him the scholarship because he’s going to be the guy who attends every lecture and publishes his notes online that will be great marketing collateral for next conference. Or he might say that he’ll take free photos at the event in exchange for the scholarship. Maybe he tells them that he’s got a really great ability to liven up breakout sessions and get people engaged and that his presence in those sessions will make the experience better for all the other attendees.
Isn’t it obvious that he would get the scholarship before anyone else and maybe something more? And the reason is simple: now he’s not a passive recipient of value delivered by others, but somebody actively participating in the value creation process with those others.
If the idea of getting anything you want in life excites you, whether it’s a job, a client, a scholarship or a girl, this is where your mind needs to be. You don’t need any special strategies. You just need to show them how giving you what you want will help them achieve what they want.
It’s the most unfair advantage you can give yourself. While everyone else is stuck in their own heads, worried about themselves, you’re getting inside the heads of the people who have what you want and showing them why giving it to you is the best thing they could do for themselves.
Try it out. You’ll be amazed how many doors open for you.