Change the Conversation

Whether networking or evaluating employment prospects we tend to assess how we feel about the opportunity: How can this new person I’ve met help me? Does the compensation for the new job fit my goals? Will I have the authority to accomplish what is expected of me?

As job seekers, we’re encouraged to know and articulate our value; tell our story; build our
brand. And I’m among the guilty: working with clients to get them comfortable conveying the value they bring to the table.

An unintended consequence is the What’s In It For Me syndrome or WIIFM in today’s electronic shorthand; a rather egocentric approach to a conversation, where we’re pitching ourselves and our talents to anyone willing to listen.

How many of us want to engage in conversations where the purpose is for someone to pitch
us on how good they are? How many of us are comfortable in conversations where we feel
compelled to pitch ourselves?

But what if the conversation changed? What if, instead of pitching ourselves, our intention is to find out how the other guy is doing? What’s on their mind? What are their big challenges and problems? Maybe, instead of WIIFM (What’s in it for Me), we ask HAYD (How Are You Doing), or WOYM(What’s On Your Mind)?

Now how do you feel? If you’re asking someone what their problems are, are you more
inclined to listen to how you might help them? Does your intention flow from being of
assistance rather than from pitching yourself?

Shifting the conversation doesn’t absolve you from knowing and articulating your value. It
just means that you’re not obligated to lead with you, but how you might help. So change the
conversation. Ask about how they’re doing; and listen to what they say.

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