‘For Others’ beats ‘For Me’

Here’s a thing that just happened at Kroger. The cashier circled a little survey thing on my receipt and said to take the survey. My brain was about to go where it usually goes the half dozen times a day a cashier asks me to take a survey (i.e. someplace else). My batting average for taking those surveys is about .010 (non-sports fans: that’s 1 in a 100). And that one time usually ends in a frustrating dead end because of some technical glitch. Today was different though. Right as I was about to send my brain into don’t-care mode, she said, “you and me might win a prize.”

Guess what. I’m going to take that survey. Why? Because something psychological happened. I went from, “the odds are next to nothing of me getting something of value in return for spending my time on this survey,” to “oh, she might win something. I bet she hopes I take this survey so that she stands a chance of winning something.” In other words, I am willing to spend my time on that dumb survey if it means I’m doing it for someone else and not for some sort of value I might get.

This is a psychology built into most of us. As a leader, we can take advantage of this psychology by:

  • asking for favors (don’t forget the two magic words – because and please)
  • pointing out the broader benefit our efforts bring to the organization or to the world
  • remind everyone who we are doing this for
  • don’t spend so much time trying too make your thing seem like it’s worth what you are asking for it. spend your time instead on demonstrating its value to others.

Agree? Please let me know what others you can think of because I’d really love to hear what you have to say. See what I did there?

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