Just as the director needs to know what motivates the characters, it also helps if he understands what motivates the players assigned to the parts. And so it’s true for leaders and managers who would expect other people to commit to help them reach goals. In other words, the leader finds a way to get others to help him reach his goal, while they are also reaching theirs. Each can get something they want. That would be good, clean business, and it would be equitable leadership, wouldn’t it?
To do that, either somebody has to gather a lot of information, or develop a set of habits understanding the signals seen in observable behavior characteristics of others. If you pay attention, most people will show you how they wish to be treated. To start, let’s take a look at one exaggerated style. Let’s look at Inspector Clouseau who kind of sees himself as Sherlock Holmes.
In “The Pink Panther” movies, as the story developed and scenes changed, Peter Sellers was always Inspector Clouseau. And your ability to recognize the character is evidence of the effectiveness of the performance. What was so clear, and so obvious was, that the character Clouseau didn’t read the other people and situations around him very well at all. And that, though in real life could become tragic, is what made it so funny.
In the movie, Clouseau never recognized about himself the things that everyone around him saw, that caused them to treat him as they did. And by the same token, he generally misinterpreted how the other characters around him preferred to be treated. And so, this element of not being able to properly read people and situations made it all the funnier that in this role, he was to search out meaningful clues; to investigate and discover truths in reality when his whole perceivable world was altered by delusion.
But the director, Blake Edwards and the actor, Peter Sellers understood it very well. And that is precisely why the performance was such a success. It is also fair to recognize that Mr. Sellers was an excellent selection for that role. We’ve all witnessed situations where we felt the wrong person was given an assignment that just didn’t fit them at all, and some of us will have to admit that at times, it was us.
But let’s say you’re in the right role right now. You are probably correct, because the character you play is you. It’s okay to be you, isn’t it? I think we’ll all agree. But won’t we also agree that it’s NOT okay to expect everybody else to be you? How many times have you looked at somebody, and at least thought the words:
“If I were you, the way I would do it…”
To hear the words “if I were you…”, or “the way I would do it…” often carries a sense of judgement and condemnation, or at least some apparent condescension. After all, how I might do something may not only be information others are not looking for, but often could be the very process they’d wish to avoid. I can think of a few habits and practices I use often that might cause others some discomfort if expected to emulate. Perhaps you’ve heard such words before and at least thought: “But you’re NOT me, and that’s NOT the way I intend to go about it.”
No matter how much we have in common, we’re all just a little bit different from each other, aren’t we? And we all do some things differently due to our experiences, training temperament, and perhaps even our varying physical strengths and limitations. But being different in some ways is not such a bad thing. First of all, if we weren’t different from each other, we’d have a terrible time recognizing anybody. And after a while, things would get pretty boring.
But we are different. And we like different things; different flavors, colors, kinds of music, and particularly automobiles, which is a choice often effected by style. And so it is true with other choices we make, as we all don’t always want the same things. And whether we admit it or not, we are motivated by what we want, and far more so than what somebody else tells us we’re supposed to want.
Most of us are likely to be reluctant to buy when the person selling shows no interest in what we want. They need to pay us some attention, don’t they? My goodness, if they don’t do that, they could very well make the mistake of assuming you would want the same things they do. And, with that assumption, they might not be listening to what you’re telling them; they could be ignoring the signals in your behavior, your body language, facial expressions, or often as not, the lack of them.
When someone else fails to connect with you, it’s not just the mistake of not noticing you as an individual, but not noticing you with individual wants and needs. And their failure to do that could cost them the sale, couldn’t it? Keep that in mind while you’re out and about selling products or service or ideas. If you intend to be persuasive, you should want to present things so your audience can see them, and as they’d want to see them.
But, be careful. One of the greatest difficulties will be overcoming the predetermination that you should get credit for the idea. Think about someone you’ve bought from that you’d gladly recommend to others. One of the things you might be likely to say is: “They helped me find exactly what I wanted.”
What you’re not likely to say is: “They sure were persistent about proving to me that what I wanted was entirely wrong.”
You’re not likely to even think that. You might admit you were shown options you hadn’t thought about before, but in the end, if you’re happy with the decision, it will be because you’re the one who made it. And, it will have been an emotional decision. So when selling to others, allow them that. It’s far more important than how rational you think your offer is, or why you’re certain they should agree with you.
So the salesperson needs to be aware that while they can and perhaps should take on the role of directing the sale, the buyers may see themselves (and often do) as directing the purchase.