Do you know how to get what you want? Do you find that getting what you want is a matter of your approach or your attitude, or does that depend? What about the support of others — your team, your friends, your family?
In a business context, all of the above are important. Likewise, when pursuing personal goals, especially when you’re trying to get what you want from someone who may not be cooperative or so you see it — because what he or she wants is in conflict with your interest.
Or, you haven’t yet shown that person the benefit of what you’re after.
Getting What You Want Through Persuasion
Show the advantages to the other person?
Yes, that helps. But with so many options (and personal preferences), nothing is so simple when trying to convince others that your product, service, idea or approach is the best.
In “3 Ways to Get What You Want,” Inc. recommends leading up to the most significant element of what you’re after by going for several smaller concessions. They also suggest using questions to direct the other person toward your goal, then making what you want their idea.
Inc. tells us:
… you want the person you’re speaking with to feel a connection to the request you’re making. One of the best ways to do this is to make it seem like his or her idea when you want something.
Persuasion is much more involved, as we all know. Understanding the tactics that will work on your intended audience is crucial. Finding an emotional “in” or good storytelling are among many that are commonly and consistently effective.
Of course, some people are more manipulators than managers, and one could say that both are after the same thing – getting what they want.
So do we refer to one as a talented persuader or leader, and the other as Machiavellian? Doesn’t that depend on the motivation for the persuasion and what they’re after? What about using inspiring words or actions as a tool? What about personal charisma?
Most will agree that positive attitude is an asset. And let’s remember that positivity and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive; there is a difference between an affirmative approach and playing Pollyanna.
Sometimes, the answer to getting what we want is as simple as attitude. Sometimes it’s a matter of “just do it.”
There are times when no amount of telling myself to “just do it” seems to work. I’m meeting resistance somewhere inside myself, possibly because I’m tired, possibly because I know the tasks ahead will be challenging, possibly because some emotional obstacle that I’m unaware of is standing in the way.
I’m standing in my own way.
There are times when beginning something becomes the obstacle, and once past the beginning, we realize that by breaking a challenging goal into smaller units, we can begin to see what is achievable. So “just start” can be just right.
There are other times when beginnings are our comfort zone. But execution?
Follow-through dogs us. We persevere for awhile, but we lose interest or motivation. Or, we lose discipline.
I’m not a fan of manipulation. Although it may be an effective way to get what you want, manipulative tactics typically undermine the other person you are looking to convince. You are preying on others’ vulnerabilities by:
- instilling fear
- instilling doubt
- undermining confidence
Most of us have been on the receiving end of these tactics, whether personally or professionally. Sometimes, we use these and other similar approaches to get what we want, telling ourselves “the end justifies the means.”
In organizational life as well as when we seek to influence our children or partners, what I think of as benign manipulation — suggestions like making the other person think your idea was his — are effective, and may lead to a desired, positive end.
Psychological issues may surface at times and hold us back; we set barriers in our way, and we become our own worst enemies when trying to accomplish our heart’s desire. I’ve certainly done this in the past, and I recognize patterns that trace back to childhood.
We may be afraid of getting what we want. We may not feel we “deserve” what we want. We may worry about how others will feel if we get what we want, and how shaky life will seem after.
Clearly, there are times when we need to talk through these issues with a professional, and we shouldn’t minimize or dismiss the challenges in that process. But self-sabotage can be common in our conflicted culture with its contradictory roles and often unrealistic expectations, as women especially may struggle with issues of esteem and confidence, when a clearer view of their talents and skills would make it so much easier to get what they want.
We should also recognize that surrounding ourselves with people who do not support us in our goals is to also to court undermining our success.
Good habits can help here, too, particularly if part of our process is reminding ourselves what we want — and visualizing it.
The Vision Thing
When I’m trying to get what I want and my goal is complex, I can use visualizing successfully at times. It’s more difficult if whatever I’m after involves a long and winding road, with the emphasis on long. With multi-year objectives, so much life can get in the way!
This is when I focus more on imagining the next step or some interim stage. I shift imagining the totality of “what I want” to something more immediately achievable so a win isn’t quite so far off.
Of course, sometimes we don’t get what we want, no matter what. We may be good at meeting our objectives and lousy in our personal or family lives. We may get what we want on a personal level, but struggle professionally. Perhaps we live through a period of time when we can’t seem to chip away at what we want in any realm; frustration grows.
Do You Know What You Want?
Planning, persuasion, persistence, skills, attitude, teamwork, timing, resourcefulness, imagination. These are all part and parcel of getting what we want. And let’s not forget about luck.
First and foremost, it’s difficult to get what we want if we don’t know what it is. As a fan of serendipity, that doesn’t mean we won’t discover it with an open mind, and paying attention to what we like along the way. If that means adjusting our goals accordingly, then so be it.
And doesn’t life itself teach us what we want, in part from experiencing what we don’t?
As for obstacles, they’re inevitable. They may slow us down, but beating them makes us stronger. Failing to beat them may lead us to another goal that is more suitable. But surely, burying ourselves in “busyness” isn’t the answer — something I need to remind myself. This tendency can easily insinuate itself into our rhythms and our excuses, at times seeming a legitimate “reason” that we cannot pursue what we want with greater focus.
For myself, when this happens, I know I need to take a hard look inside as well as at what I want, or think I want. Perhaps I’m looking at a brass ring that isn’t — or shouldn’t be — where I set my sights. Perhaps I need to give myself a swift kick in the behind — first with “just start,” followed by the daily discipline of “just do it.”
What do you use to get what you want? How do you justify getting your way without “my way or the highway” in your approach? Are there times when benign manipulation is just what you need in organizational life? What about family life? How do you regain motivation when it starts to wane?
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