Learning the Deeper Motivations of Others

I joined Audible the other day.

This in and of itself is a pretty trivial bit of information for me to share.  Trust me when I say I have a reason and that reason does relate to my month of self-improvement through attitude adjustment. One of the first books I bought I purchased for marketing purposes and admittedly for a selfish ‘maybe this will help’ purposes.  I’m far too embarrassed to mention the title but suffice it to say, the book is one of those self-help books that is supposed to assist and guide someone like me in interacting with others.

Since the core element of the book is how to relate to others, I figured it would assist in writing marketing copy.  What I didn’t really expect was how it would relate to my own efforts at adjusting my attitude in a more positive direction.

The language of the book is slightly off-putting to me since it talks about each interaction with other people as ‘laying siege to a castle’, breaking down their defenses.  I’ve no interest in battering down another person’s defenses just like I don’t want my defenses battered down.  Yet, the point is valid. Every person has a way in which to be approached that makes them receptive to the message you are trying to deliver to them.

A large part of being able to make this approach is by first understanding yourself, understanding your own strengths, and your own sense of self.  That is a bit abstract and a wee bit ‘woo-woo’ for me so let’s see if I can make this a bit more concrete.

In a customer service situation, a customer is complaining about the quality of service. The normal reaction is either to completely capitulate or become defensive. That is about our reaction to the customer but what truly helps defuse the situation and actually turn it into something positive is to take a moment and try to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish.  Sometimes capitulation isn’t what the customer wants because the customer is seeking something else from the complaint.

How does this relate to attitude adjustment?  I make a lot of assumptions regarding people I’m in contact with.  I assume I understand their motives, and I’m usually right on the surface which makes casual contact just fine, but the deeper motivations aren’t so obvious.  A good portion of my negativity does come from how other people ‘let me down’ which really translates to how they act on their deeper motivations and not the surface ones I assume they do.

Understanding what other people really want is key to interacting with tem successfully and successful interactions lead to a more positive outlook.  And just to clarify, a positive interaction isn’t one where I get what I want, but one where I’m not blindsided,  where the actions of the other person surprise me because I failed to take the time to understand that person and what that person’s motivations were.

I do bristle a bit at this because it assumes that my motives, my goals have to take back seat to everyone else’s.  And I don’t really like the implication that to obtain my goals I have to cloak my intentions.  I’m a fairly open person.  I lack guile in any real form.  Even playing games I’m good at like Chess, I tend to broadcast my gambits.  I can’t play Poker with other people at all.  Such openness may be a bad thing.  I’ll have to ponder that at a later date. What I absolutely do know, and the lesson I’m taking away from this book, is as much as a contented life stems from within me, I am strongly influenced by the people I surround myself with. Learning to understand them, and their deeper motivations, will allow me to protect that contentment.

This may lead to more awkward conversations than I would like to have and may end some friendships, but if those relationships are causing negativity in me, then they need to be properly adjusted along with my attitude.

Today’s Affirmation
I am influenced by the people around me; I need to choose those people wisely.