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Good benefit exchanges focus on what your audience wants – not what you want.

gift receiving

What will make you more persuasive in 2014? Thinking less about what you want and more about what you deliver for others. Work with the principle of benefit exchange to win over your colleagues.

A benefit exchange is the heart of persuasion. It answers the question, "What's in it for me?" for the person you are seeking to influence. In other words, it's a benefit you promise in exchange for someone taking your desired action.

I used to be a marketing executive and also taught marketing as an adjunct professor, and in my experience, this is the single most powerful yet neglected concept in communicating in the workplace. Benefit exchanges are useful for all kinds of situations, such as getting someone at work to agree to your proposal, inspiring people to change their habits or compelling someone to buy your product.

But we so often get the benefit exchange wrong. The number one error is we talk about attributes vs. benefits. We get lost in the qualities of an idea or a product rather than translating those attributes into the benefits they deliver for a colleague or customer. Telling me that a proposal addresses a problem in workflow is citing an attribute; demonstrating how it saves money or increases efficiency is showing a benefit. Rack and pinion steering is an attribute of a car; responsiveness that makes you feel safer on the road is a benefit.

Good benefit exchanges focus on what your audience wants – not what you want. That's the second common error we make. Don't fall into the trap of communicating based on the benefits you desire. Think from the perspective of those you want to influence and speak to that world view.

Those are ways we go wrong. So how do we do it right? If you want to be more persuasive this year, here are five ways to build a strong benefit exchange and win hearts and minds in the process.

Make the Benefit Immediate: Few of us take action based on a benefit that we expect to receive in the far future. It is human nature to seek instant satisfaction over distant gratification. How can you make your case that if someone does what you want, they will reap immediate rewards? Answer the question: what will be better tomorrow?

Make It Personal: A compelling benefit needs to make people feel their lives will be better as individuals or within their tight circles of friends, family, community or work. At the end of the day, the personal connection, not the grand concept, grabs our attention. Make sure you're focused on why your agenda is specifically relevant to the person you wish to persuade.

Speak to Your Audience's Values: We can’t easily change what other people believe, but by plugging into their existing mind-set, we unleash great power behind our message. Make sure the benefit you are communicating is something others seek – not just what you want. Those two things are rarely the same, but we often imagine they are.

Know What You're Up Against: Think competitively about your benefit. Is it better than what people get for doing nothing – or something else instead? Don’t forget there’s a reason people aren’t taking the action you seek. They may be deriving benefits from those alternate behaviors. How can you shape a benefit better than sticking to the status quo?

Be Real: Last, you need to make sure your benefit exchange is credible and honest. People need to believe in what you communicate. Ask someone who is respected to back you up. Or show other people gaining the promised benefit. Or tell a good story that is a true example of the benefit in action. You want to persuade by keeping your promises.

If people aren’t doing what you want, you may find out why by reviewing this list. Is it time to better focus on what you deliver? It may well be, because a great benefit exchange makes it far easier (and faster) to get to yes.

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Good points, but...

How do I get what I want if I focus just on what other people want?

Not everyone thinks in terms of transactional exchange?

Isn't that the 'salesperson' in you?

If you are able to convince your mark that they want something - I like to say that during the conversation they state their needs in terms of your products, in their own words - then you have a win-win situation.

That was always the basis of the consultative sale IMHO

Ah! Watch for the opportunity to come up with a mutually beneficial arrangement.

In this world there are only two tragedies.  One is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it.

– Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde

I've long presumed getting every "thing" I want always comes FROM other people--money, status, power, houses, cars, successful businesses, a good pinot noir.  And frankly that's a good thing, as I'm just too lazy to make all these things alone out back in my garage.  

Naturally that brought my focus onto other people along the way, plus cultivating skills to figure two things out:

1. What other people (who have what I want and who are likely to give it to me if I give them what they want--whew!) want; and,

2. Where to get what they want and give it to them in the way that they want it so they will give me what I want.

It's true I've had successes along the way with other means of getting what I want, e.g. being a lucky beneficiary of someone else's largesse by simply smiling and asking them for what I want, "Why, thank you kind sir!".  However, these have not proven as dependable as the above two steps, especially since starting a family as my ask has become a little too large for just bonhomie alone to win the day.

So as I go off to the salt mines, or pad around the house in my underwear thinking deep thoughts, wherever I intend to end up is usually closer to the place where somebody else wants what I got or where they gots what I want. And that's usually climbing a hill of filthy lucre, which thankfully plays nice with all those prices on things and makes all the fetching and getting exchanging of stuff much easier.

One caveat: everything I want does actually come from somebody else except for one thing--inner peace.  That's of my own making...out back in the garage.

Inner peace is not a want. It's an intangible that comes from the lack of want.

You cannot "want" the lack of want or you'll rupture the space time continuum.

That's why I'm unmaking it out back in my garage...


"You cannot "want" the lack of want or you'll rupture the space time continuum."

How Would Buddha and Jesus Handle Pissed Off and Difficult People in Today's Crazy World?

Doesn't that put Buddhism into freefall?

Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali: "Nibbana") means "cessation", "extinction" (of craving and ignorance and therefore suffering and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (saṃsāra)), "extinguished", "quieted", "calmed"; it is also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. The term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including the Buddha, is arahant.

Bodhi (Pāli and Sanskrit, in devanagari: बॊधि) is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but it is more commonly translated into English as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the experience, which implies the extinction of raga (greed, craving),[59]dosa (hate, aversion)[60] and moha (delusion).[61] In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:

An important development in the Mahayana [was] that it came to separate nirvana from bodhi ('awakening' to the truth, Enlightenment), and to put a lower value on the former (Gombrich, 1992d). Originally nirvana and bodhi refer to the same thing; they merely use different metaphors for the experience. But the Mahayana tradition separated them and considered that nirvana referred only to the extinction of craving (passion and hatred), with the resultant escape from the cycle of rebirth. This interpretation ignores the third fire, delusion: the extinction of delusion is of course in the early texts identical with what can be positively expressed as gnosis, Enlightenment.

Whoa. I do feel lighter after reading that.

hugh jackman fountain gif Imgur enlightenment light tumblr

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