Have you ever designed or created something and then presented it to someone (client or team) for approval or use – only for them to flat out reject it? (Queue sad music…)

This could be the innovative design for a long-standing product that your customers respond poorly to or even a well thought out project pitch to the rest of the business that falls flat.

There’s a key reason why this happens.
Understanding this is the difference between smoothly converting change resistant team members or clients and having door after door slammed in our faces (which we frankly don’t enjoy).

Here’s the reason.

The highly contested book, ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins raises many eyebrows (including mine), but one thing the book has going for it is this…

The idea that human beings are wired to serve and protect themselves at the genetic and physiological level.

Many of us are well aware of that.
Without this sense and need to ‘self-preserve’ – we wouldn’t exercise our reflexes to get out of the way of a moving car or release adrenalin at the sound of a roaring lion.

This is also true of our response to change, transformation and even the question ‘should we have meatball pizza or vegetable lasagne for dinner tonight?’

Because there’s a key question we all ask ourselves when we:

  • Hear about our team’s brand new reporting system
  • Discover a job opening we’ve been hoping for
  • Consume a piece of content on social media

‘What’s In It For Me’?

If we could design strategy, content, products and services with the sole understanding that each and every person who receives it is asking:

‘What’s In It For Me’?

We would:

  1. Use relatable stories – tell stories where your recipient feels like the main character.
  2. Use the word ‘you’ and ‘we/us’ more and ‘me’ a little less – truth is that your client/team don’t care as much about ‘you’ as you might think.
  3. Ask – you’re great at your job, but you’re not a mind reader. Ask your change recipient ‘how’ they wish to be lead or served and then leverage those insights to drive change.

Keeping this principle in mind and using it both in the workplace and your personal settings is key to ongoing success as members of an ever-shifting workforce.

So your challenge for the coming week?
Every time you try to convince someone of something, stop and ask how you can make it crystal clear what’s in it for them.

Dawkins, R. (2006). The Selfish Gene. Oxford University Press.

Got some #UnLearning to do?

Known to her awesome clients as ‘The UnLearning Lady’, Zanele Njapha, author of today’s Tuesday Tip, is the world’s leading voice on using key unlearning principles to help teams let go of outdated ways of working & transition successfully into exciting new ways of seeing, doing & being!

Zanele can support your team through her ‘ReImagine: UnLearn & ReLearn’ keynote that can also be delivered as an interactive workshop’.


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