Does your What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) reflect only what matters to you or can you also see others WIIFM? Are you aware of its power as an influencing tool?
What’s in it for me (Audio)
When you hear the term WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) what does that make you think of? Do you immediately link that to yourself in respect of your ego? Do you think of it more esoterically as in a third person cliche? Or does it make you perhaps think of how “me, me, me” everything seems to have become? With other words, does it invoke positive or negative sentiments for you? When, how and where do you notice it most within you and around you?
Background to What’s In It For Me
Looking up the origin of this I found it in the title of a country music song “What’s in it for me?” written by Gary Burr and John Jarrard. Of course today it is much more widely used as a cliché and ironically in the context of the music metaphor, is sometimes referred to as an acronym for a radio station: “WIIFM”.
In its most fundamental form, everything we do as human beings is in some way driven by our ego; that is to say we are all very strongly driven by “what’s in it for me” and hence this is quite an appropriate saying, isn’t it?
No doubt a healthy ego makes for healthy competition. But it can quite easily be taken too far, can’t it?
In Arrogance, Aggression & Assertiveness I highlight the differences between these approaches and behaviours and suggest that there can be a fine line between them. However, an extreme presence of WIIFM and too much self-focus is clearly deemed excessive behaviour and rarely tolerated for long or by many people.
Conversely, if I notice a pattern in some of my clients by which the “always” put others first (at their expense) and suffer from a distinct lack of WIIFM, I usually suspect that this might be an indication of Self Doubt or lacking Self Worth and will usually challenge them on that and then coach them through it.
Finding the right Balance between these two can sometimes prove to be a juggling act for some people, right?
Soft Skills and What’s In It For Me
In my coaching, mentoring and “soft skills” grooming, this term WIIFM features quite predominantly when we talk about the more sophisticated communication skills and certainly when we talk about influencing skills.
My last blog Interested or Interesting? I linked a few clichés like: “what goes around comes around”, and “if I can help you get what you want, you will probably be more interested in helping me get what I want” as well as “take your eyes off yourself and put them on those you lead to give them everything they need to succeed” and suggested that they would serve to enhance your interest in the other person and thereby “make you more interesting”.
I have so often written about how soft skills begin with us giving more focus on the “other person” and how listening to them forms the basis for understanding what they want. Good listening that enables us to hear and appreciate “what they want” has become quite rare, hasn’t it?
People aren’t interested in everything we know. You know the cliché “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”, don’t you?
In a sales or influencing situation it is the crystallizing of what they need or want and then pitching our knowledge to just that requirement that helps win them over to us and our solution.
Let’s say we are a carpenter, and we tell them all about what we do, even with great passion. People so often just “tune out” of such barrages, don’t they? How much smarter would it be if we asked and listened and heard them outline exactly what they needed instead? That way we could quite specifically draw on an example (if possible) where we have done exactly what they are looking for or something similar for someone else; or if not, that we could refer them to someone that had. Wouldn’t that so much better serve to “win them over”?
If we take the trouble to focus sufficient attention on “what’s in it for them” then this serves to strengthen our rapport with them. That would suggest a more pronounced “warming towards us”, albeit at an unconscious level. In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) we learn that rapport is a heightened state of trust and response between two people and that in the presence of rapport anything is possible.
In my negotiation skills grooming I urge my clients to try and find the other parties’ WIIFM as I wrote in What is your purpose? because if we are able to identify that early we will better know what is of value to them and can better relate what they might be willing to forego to achieve that while we can establish what we may need to give away to help us achieve our objectives.
I was taught to look for three aspects of “good” in an ecological sense, for example if I am setting a goal, I would ask:
- Is it good for me?
- Is it good for the others?
- Is it good for “the greater good”?
That also takes WIIFM to another level. In organizations we want our people to look for WIIFM of our market or clients so that we can develop and pitch our product or service to them more relevantly.
In Are you a “fetch” person? I suggest that organizations are looking for “fetch” people, that is those that have a strong WIIFM that want to grow themselves and in doing so will help grow the companies interests.
However, if that latter aspect is out of balance and the employee’s WIIFM becomes counterproductive and actually damages the organization then it obviously needs to be addressed.
In Ego versus Outcomes I write that in the management and leadership context, how important a part the management of ego play in driving successful outcomes, however conversely, provides examples of where it simply gets in the way.
In my blog Leading from behind I speak about the achievement of better outcomes through others by having them drive YOUR initiatives for THEIR reasons. This forms part of the art of delegating, and I have learned that this approach should include them collecting some of the accolades, which of course necessitates your ego allowing that. I probably don’t need to remind you how rare that can be in corporate life today, where in the hustle and bustle of “getting ahead” it’s often a case of “everyone for themselves”.
I think you are getting my drift, aren’t you?
I’m not asking you to be selfless. I’m not asking you to forget or fore-go everything you want. On the contrary, as a coach (and if I were your coach) I would be focusing all my attention on exactly what it is that you want. And that is what I am trying to achieve with this blog today also.
What I am suggesting is that if we can adopt a strategy (as well as the tactics) of first establishing what the other person or party wants – as in establishing their WIIFM, then we would probably put ourselves in a significantly better position to influence outcomes that suit our agenda(s) than the majority of people around us do by trying always to focus only on ourselves and what we want.
Can you see how much more elegant this approach can be?
What if you had a go this week and consciously tried to see where and how you could test this out and see for yourself whether and how it made a difference in the outcomes you aspire to?
What if you could?