One of the biggest challenges in life is getting along with other people. We all have different personalities, perspectives, interests, motivations, beliefs and so on, so it is no wonder that we can find ourselves not seeing eye-to-eye sometimes. Whether it involves a partner, children, work colleague, boss, or the person on the end of the phone from the company who supplies your broadband, we have all had times of frustration as we find ourselves unable to navigate our way through a communication effectively with someone. We can feel at odds with people in those times when we are not on the same page in a discussion or situation, and as social creatures it can be annoying or even upsetting to not be in alignment with those around us.
When it comes to dealing with people, one useful thing to remember is that people buy feelings rather than products. If we just bought products we would all drive the same type of car, take the same type of holidays, wear the same style of clothes, etc. But we buy feelings, and when it comes to cars, for example, some people want to feel safe above everything else; some want a car to look good; others rate fuel efficiency or price as the most important factor. So, we buy the car that makes us feel the way we want to feel when we own it. We buy feelings. Another example of this is when you have had a bad meal at a restaurant, but you had a great waiter serving you all evening, and he made the night enjoyable despite the poor food, so you still leave a tip. That waiter understood that people buy feelings and that if he can ensure that you felt well looked after and appreciated as customers despite the cold starters, then you would likely still have some good feelings about the dining experience.
This doesn’t apply only to cars, holidays, clothes or eating out. We all buy feelings when it comes to many areas of our lives. We often (but not always) act and behave in line with our emotions, and so we are influenced in our behaviour by how we feel during and after our interaction with someone. So, sometimes, rather than focusing only on the subject of a discussion or the content of the situation, it can be really helpful to also consider how our own approach to that discussion or situation makes the other person feel. Will they come away feeling that they have been heard? That they are valued? That their perspective was taken into account even if it was not the chosen outcome? Or will they feel dismissed? Not listened to? Un-appreciated?
This means taking into account things like tone of voice, body language, listening style and making sure that with these as well as our words and behaviour, we set things up so that the other person is likely to feel good about themselves and about us after our encounter. Taking this approach means that we give ourselves the best chance of a successful outcome in any given situation (the waiter got the tip after all!). However, even when someone is disappointed with the outcome of a negotiation or interaction, there is still the opportunity for something positive to come out of it in terms of the feelings that everyone goes away with. Given the amount of interactions we have with people on a daily basis, this is definitely worth giving some consideration. So next time you are dealing with someone consider how you want the other person to feel. What would be the most useful way for them to leave the interaction? Thinking about this will shape your own part in the conversation and it may well bring about more successful outcomes for all concerned.
Final Thought
“I’ve learned that people forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” ~ Maya Angelou
Performance and Life Coach