jamie-wolf-2Develop Yourself: Part 4 of 6

Change your perspective to be effective!

Can you tell a compelling story demonstrating what result or benefit someone will receive from listening to your advice, supporting your charity, or buying your service or product? In other words, can you persuade me that the message you are sending is worth my receiving?


At the Farmer’s Market I walked past a table with posters and flyers against human trafficking. I thought it was admirable that a woman would give up her Saturday morning for a cause I know a little about and already support. And yet despite her good intentions of increasing awareness of and support against a widespread human rights issue, compared to the bakery booth and the coffee booth, she was not getting buy-in. Nothing about her messaging compelled people to stop or to get involved. If her message had said, “Jamie, your daughter just got sold into slavery,” you can bet I would have stopped, plus taken action, as then it would have been personal and compelling to me. Clearly she can’t scare each person walking by, but she can practice repositioning her story so that it hooks people to stop, listen, and act.

I learned a private group has decided to organize a mission to Mars. They are raising funds by framing the project as a reality TV show, charging an application fee for the ‘audition’. The applicant must answer three questions in a one-minute video. Then the online community votes for their favorite videos/applicants. I was disappointed with the ones I watched in that they all talked ‘at’ me and the message was delivered from the perspective of “I”: “I’m the best applicant because…” “I’m funny because….” “Here’s what I’ll get out of it when I go to Mars…” “Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to go to Mars.” “There’s nothing here for me and I have no ties so I want to go to Mars.”

Really? That’s the best they can do? If I’m the project manager I want a demonstration of what each applicant will do for the mission! I want a story that proves the applicant will add value to the project; I want to feel the benefit or outcome they’ll deliver. If their videos don’t exhibit creativity, don’t acknowledge situations in which they’ve had to overcome fear and isolation, and don’t show me how my goals will be furthered by their participation, then I haven’t received information to convince me I want them on my team. (If you want to apply, go to http://applicants.mars-one.com/)

I heard a story. A homeless person sat on the street with a cup for change and a sign, “Please help, I’m hungry.” People rushed by, barely glancing down. A young man stopped, thought about it, changed the wording on the sign, and stepped back to observe. Suddenly people began stopping and putting change and bills in the homeless man’s cup. What do you think it said on the sign now? “What if you were hungry?”

An important element of developing yourself is to change your perspective to be more effective. We all have things we care about deeply, but how do we get someone else to care as much as we do about our personal or professional concerns? In order to elicit the response we desire – to get the donation, the sale, or the ‘yes’ – we must view the situation from the perspective of the person from whom we wish action. We must recognize what benefits they want and be attuned to how to convince them we can deliver. For instance, perhaps we want to get the highest dollar value for an item we have for sale. Maybe we want someone to donate to a fundraiser we care about. When we want something from someone else, we must first understand how they receive the information we want to convey and how they translate that into the result they are rewarded with. We can’t preach, we can’t lecture, we can’t dictate what they need to or should do, and we can’t simply list features – the items we deem important. We must change our perspective to fully understand how their lives are changed when they receive what we have to give (or sell).

It’s not easy. It requires considering psychology, the art of persuasion, an ability to create a sense of urgency, and effective communication. Some of it has to do with timing – not everyone will hear your message at the right time or place to take action, so you may have to be patient and consistent in your messaging. If you knew that you could be more effective in your interactions with others – whether that meant getting everyone out the door easily in the morning, getting your coworkers to be punctual to meetings, or increasing your sales 15% this quarter – by changing your perspective from sending to receiving, would you be compelled to pause, reflect, and give it a try?

“I know how to make your kids behave. When I tell people how to get their kids to behave the first thing I do is … and then I … and I get great results and all my clients love me. In fact, last year I got to take two extra vacations because I made so much money….” Do you really want to keep listening to this hot air bag talk “I, I, I?”

Not me! Now listen to a different perspective. “If I could show you a way to get your kids to listen and be respectful, if I could show you a way to keep your job and get a raise, if I could show you a way to significantly improve your revenues, would that be worth five minutes of your time?” Improve your effectiveness dramatically in every situation by changing your perspective; always come from the viewpoint of the benefit or outcome someone else receives from you. To develop yourself, this week practice changing your perspective – in any setting – and experience the difference!


Beaufort resident Jamie Wolf is the author of ‘Start Over! Start Now! Ten Keys to SUCCESS in Business and Life’ and ten accompanying guidebooks.  If you’re ready to be Master of your Fate and Captain of your Soul, she invites you to come on board! Jamie offers online courses and coaching for entrepreneurs and people interested in starting over or in starting their own business. Visit her at http://www.thestartover.com

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