In This Episode:
- One key tip on how to get people to want to listen to you
- Why WII-FM is everyone’s favorite radio station
- A simple, one page tip sheet to help you focus like a laser on what other people care about
“My Favorite Things” – a quick one-page downloadable PDF that lets you focus on exactly what is important to the other person.
Take a listen!
Becoming a Geek Leader. Season one. Episode one.
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Welcome to the Becoming a Geek Leader podcast. My name is Tom Cooper. As a geek, I’m on a mission to figure out better ways to lead others at work and at home. Through the becoming a geek leader podcast, I’m sharing what I’m learning so I can help make you more effective at leading people too. Ready?
Today I want to talk about how do you get people to want to help you. What can you do to get people to want to buy in to your ideas? How can you get the support you need, whether it’s the tools or the resources or the time, whatever it might be? How can you get other people to want to buy in and help you?
In the mentoring segment, Tom tackles tough issues based on his years of experience.
Tom: [00:02:01] In the mentoring segment today, I want to talk about how you can get more cooperation from other people. Now specifically I want to talk about building a relationship with your boss. I’ve thought back over my career and I probably have had between 8 and 12 bosses depending on the types of jobs which ones I include in my career. And I have had some great bosses and I’ve had some not so great bosses. I’ve had some great relationships with bosses and I’ve had some not so great relationships with bosses. I’m not suggesting that you should be your boss’s best friend, and frankly, they might not want to be that friendly with you. But let me talk for just a minute or two about things you can do to improve your odds.
[00:02:47] What I want to talk about specifically is one aspect of their life that you may know a lot about, or you might only know a little bit about it, and it’s their family. Let me ask you, do you know your boss’ spouse name? How much do you know about your boss’ spouse? That’s the person they partnered with. That’s the person they spend a bunch of time with outside work. It be a good idea for you to know who they are.
[00:03:14] Now I’m going to ask you a really tough one. Do you know how many kids they have? If you know how many kids they have, do you know their kids’ names? And you’re thinking, “Why do I care about my boss’s kids names? After all, that has nothing to do with work.” Let me just submit to you that if you don’t even know the names of the people that this person considers the most important people in the world, how do you think you’re going to have any influence with them at all. Let me tell you, if you take the time to get to know things about their family, their interests and their activities, it will be incredibly powerful for you when you go ask your boss for help on work projects.
[00:04:08] Now I have to confess, I was not great at this. Over my career, I got better at it. I learned more about it. But it was one of those things that I had to make a lot of mistakes about. If I go back to some of my earliest bosses, I knew nothing about them outside of work. And frankly I didn’t like them very much and didn’t want to know very much about them outside of work. That wasn’t good for me.
[00:04:34] Now let’s talk practically about how you can find out about what’s going on with them. You can ask them about their kids, about what their kids are into. You can look around their office for any kid artwork, photos, certificates. Look at the things that they do with their family.
[00:04:55] One powerful example. I had a co-worker whose eight-year-old son was involved in a competitive dirt motorcycling league. I have to say I know nothing about that at all. But what I did learn is that they would pack up and travel and camp every weekend during the season. And they thought about things like equipment and gear and things that might give their son an edge. If you wanted to have a good conversation with that family, you could ask the mom about where they went that weekend. And she would have a story about their camping and about their son’s competition and about their equipment or whatever had gone wrong. It’s a great way to make a connection.
[00:05:37] Now I know this is not rocket science. It’s not rocket science, but you’re going to need to be able to find a way to remember this stuff too. And for me, I remember I used to try use my memory to keep track of stuff like, and what I learned was I’m astonishingly bad. And in fact, if you talk to people, many times they’re going to tell you, “Oh, I’m just not good at remembering names. And if I can hardly remember my boss’s name, how am I going to remember by boss’s kids names?”
[00:06:05] Well, again, it’s not rocket science. You need a system. And for me the system was writing it down. You do whatever it takes to help you remember. But my tool is note-taking because that’s the way I learn. By writing and reading, that really works for me. So I’ll be talking with somebody, and let’s say during a conversation, they’re telling a story and they mention their spouse’s name. If I’ve got my notebook handy or Evernote and my laptop, I’ll make a note of that immediately. If I’m not taking notes right then, I’ll make every effort to remember though. Think, “Okay, how can I remember this?” It’s John or it’s Susan or whatever the person’s name is and I’ll repeat it in my memory until I think I’ve got it locked in. And then as soon as I can, I’ll write it down, because I know me, I’m not going to remember.
[00:06:54] Now, what do I write down? It’s pretty simple. When I get to my notebook, I’ll write down spouse’s name, July. And hopefully it is July. If I had confused it with Susan or whoever. If they happen to mention something about their kid, I might say, I might write down, “Son in kindergarten.” And if I know their son’s name, I’ll make a note of that too. If not, I’ll try to make a point of asking the next time, “Hey, what’s your son’s name?” And then I’ll write it down. And you might think, “Look, this is ridiculous. This is just a technique or a tool or a manipulation process, and it’s not going to work.” Or they’re going to think. “Oh, that’s totally disingenuous.” Well, if you’re doing it as a weasel because you want to manipulate your boss, then yes, it’s not going to work for you. But if you are showing an interest in your boss and you’re trying to understand what their world is about outside of work, it’s going to work and it’s going to work very well.
[00:07:46] So whatever system you need to use, use that. But you want to find out the names of the people that are the most important people in their life, and you want to find out the things that those people are interested in. And as you build that relationship with your boss, your opportunities at work are only going to get better. And that is today’s mentoring segment.
Tom: [00:08:30] As you probably know by now, I’ve got seven kids and each of them has got their own style, their approach and priorities. But one thing that happens regularly at my house is that somebody want’s to get involved in an activity. Let’s say they want to play a game, and they need to find some recruits to want to play.
The other day I was working in my office and I heard this.
Stephanie: [00:08:50] Why doesn’t anybody play with me?
Tom: [00:08:56] That was my daughter reenacting a scenario that happens on a pretty regular basis around here. How do we get other people to want to get involved? She was so frustrated that she couldn’t get people to help her with her goal of playing a game, that she got more and more frustrated until she finally could not stand it.
[00:09:16] So how could she get them to want to play with her? It’s an important question and it ties in exactly to what we’ve been talking about on today’s episode. How do we get people to want to go along with the stuff we want to do? People’s favorite station is W-I-I-F-M, what’s in it for me. In my daughter’s case, she was crystal-clear on what was important to her, what’s in it for Stephanie, but not so clear on why others would need to stop what they were doing to play along with her, to go along with the game that she had in mind.
[00:09:50] I got to tell you, that’s how it is at work too. If other people on your team cannot figure out why they should stop what they’re doing and play with you, they’re not going to play with you, whether it’s delivering the work that you need, or whether it’s attending your meeting, or whatever. And so you need to think about how you can get people to want to play along, and it really comes down to what’s in it for them. If you can focus your communication around what’s in it for them as opposed to what’s in it for you, you’re much more likely to get the equipment, or the software, or the people, or the time, or the cooperation that you need.
[00:10:34] And let me just want to point out that the more passionate you are about the thing that you need, the more important it is to you, the more you need to think about what’s in it for them. What do they care about? What are they being measured on? Who is your audience? And we’ll dive a lot more into those questions in future episodes of becoming a geek leader. In my daughter’s case she could turn it around. Rather than just announce to somebody who’s busy doing something else, “I’m going to play scrabble.” She could think about her brother who loves words, and she can entice him with the idea of being creative. For her brother who is very competitive, she could challenge him to a contest. And for her mom, she could appeal the Holley’s love of fun with her kids. In no time, she could have a foursome sitting around the living room, having a blast, debating whether “koo” is a word, or just a sound that babies make when they’re content. And of course, which dictionary should be the source of truth for this evening’s game.
[00:11:38] Getting buy-in by thinking about what’s in it for the other person is how you make it work, and that’s today’s family segment.
Tom: [00:12:08] Now it’s time for the episode hack. And just a quick review. In this episode, we’ve talked about how do you get buy-in from other people. We talked about communicating with your boss, building relationship with your boss, getting others to want to help you. Today’s episode hack revolves around W-I-I-F-M, what’s in it for me.
[00:12:27] How can you start to think about the other person and what it is they need? What matters to them? How can you re-frame your request in terms of their interest? I want to encourage you to check out the show notes for a powerful template you can use called My Favorite Things. And it helps you keep track of the things that are their favorites. It’s available for free to folks who register for the Becoming a Geek Leader podcast on brighthillgroup.com.
[00:12:53] Thinking about the other person, framing your communication and your request in terms that matter to the other person, that’s thinking about W-I-I-F-M, and that’s today’s episode hack.
[00:13:05] Thanks for listening to this episode of Becoming a Geek Leader. You can play a part in helping the podcast to grow. If you enjoyed it, please do me a favor. The way to get the podcast to grow is for you to go to iTunes and give it a rating. If enough of you give me a good rating in iTunes, this podcast will show up in their new and noteworthy section. Being in new and noteworthy is a great way to attract more listeners, and having more listeners, helps me have the support to keep the podcast going. There are three simple steps to giving me a rating. One, go to the iTunes store in the podcast section. Two, search for Becoming a Geek Leader. And three, give the podcast a great rating. And while you’re there, why not write a quick review as well. Thanks.
[00:13:50] This is Tom Cooper. Thanks for listening. Be sure to join me next time for another episode of Becoming a Geek Leader. Join me in my mission of discovering better ways to lead others at work and at home.