The first time I heard the expression “getting it” was in conversation with learned colleague Jill Konrath about six years ago: We were discussing the selection criteria for the Top Sales Experts team and we both agreed that “getting it” should be a pre-requisite for anyone wishing to join us.
Up until that point I had been used to working to “win-win” principles – it is something my mother taught me from an early age, but she called it the “give and take” mindset, and later on in life, this essential philosophy was further confirmed by Steven Covey in his defining work “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” which I have since summarized in a free downloadable Ebook.
Developing a conscious understanding of this giving and sharing strategy can take some time and some practice.
In her book ‘How to Master Networking’, Robyn Henderson calls this process earning the right to ask a favor of another person, or giving without hooks. Both of these statements imply two processes that operate pretty much at the same time (and neither of them necessarily our first reaction).
The two processes in earning the right to ask a favor are:
- Giving away information (to be helpful)
- Being open for any help you may need
Let’s look at these two processes in turn.
Giving Away Information
Whether it is accidental or planned, formal or informal, random or structured, while discussing with other people, the effective “win-winner” offers his or her knowledge, skills, ideas, resources, guidance or data freely – without any ‘hooks’ or expectations that repayment is due in any form. In fact, the only immediate benefit may be the pleasure to be derived from assisting someone with information that was of value to them.
Whilst the giver expects nothing in return, the receiver has a very positive experience and memory of you upon which they can act (if they so choose) in the future. If they do, either directly or indirectly, at some indeterminate time, you may receive some reciprocal benefit.
Along with openly offering any possible help and support, the effective “win-winner” does not operate as a one-way helper or super person/white knight/angel coming to the rescue of everyone else, but never personally in need of assistance. He or she also talks realistically about personal goals, tasks, challenges, problems and general issues and acknowledges feeling vulnerable in not being able to do everything single-handedly. Being open means being receptive to help when it is offered and, on occasions, asking networking contacts if they can suggest ideas, strategies or approaches that could assist you.
These two processes operate at the same time and together to create a cycle through which ‘favors’ are continually offered to all who participate. These favors are both offered and taken in order to keep the relationship strong.
This process is also called ‘reciprocity’ – it simply means that an effective relationship is a coin with two sides, rather than just one. You can’t have one without the other.
Successful relationships are therefore about:
- Giving and receiving
- Contributing and accepting support
- Offering and requesting
- Promoting other’s needs and promoting your own needs
- Trust and persistence
All of this is the essence of “getting it”
In practice, you can divide people who attempt to build relationships into four distinct types:
- The Loner
- The Socializer
- The User
- The Genuine Relationship Builder
Although our aim is to consider the fourth of these in some detail as the role to which we can all aspire (if we are not already there) let’s briefly look at each of these types in turn.
- Likes to do most things by themselves (because they do it faster or better)
- Doesn’t want to bother or worry other people
- Feels that their knowledge and skills are often superior to most people
- Only asks for help as a last resort (and when it may be too late)
The Loner is an easily recognizable type, because there are times when we all believe that we will do better ourselves than if we ask others for help.
The Loner will not usually want to bother anyone else, or necessarily see much point in doing so, believing that others will be slower and will set lower standards.
Unfortunately, the loner attitude is a major obstacle to effective relationship building. We need to shift our thinking greatly in this area. We should be more willing to let others assist and we should even ask for help more often.
- Tries to make a friend of everyone they meet
- Tends to know people’s names and faces, but not what they do
- Is not usually systematic or ordered about follow-up – contact is random
- May not listen too deeply and is quick to move on
Although the Socializer may have a wide circle of friends and contacts, he or she knows little of substance about personal skills and resources. As a result, Socializers do not often share their skills.
The Socializer is also a random relationship builder, following little or no formal contact system.
- Is likely to collect business cards without really connecting with people
- Tries to make ‘sales’ or ‘pitches’ on the first encounter
- Talks and focuses on own agenda, rather than ‘together’ information
- Has superficial interactions
- Keeps the score when giving favors
Unfortunately, people of this type do build relationships, but in a way that creates little benefit for themselves or others.
The Relationship Builder
- Has a ‘giving’ disposition or abundance mentally
- Is generally happy to ask others for help or guidance
- Listens and learns about people carefully
- Is regularly on the look-out for useful information from which others can also benefit
- Is well-ordered and organized
This type of person is what this article is all about – an individual who takes a long-term perspective on relationships with others and thinks more about what he or she can give or offer, than about the return.
This type is out there for others, or on call to offer help whenever it is needed.
If they cannot help in person, they usually know someone else who can.
Apart from the Relationship Builder, one factor connects the other three types in preventing them from truly “getting it” This is the issue of self-esteem.
The Loner believes in himself or herself, but not necessarily in others (especially relative strangers).
The Socializer likes people, but also very much wants to be liked by others (and therefore does not want to ask for favors).
Finally, the User takes a relatively selfish view of “If I benefit or gain, I might reciprocate, otherwise I won’t.”
Of course, all of these types fear rejection, obligation, being too pushy or even looking weak. All of these fears or concerns about relationship building need to be lessened or overcome.
In a short article such as this, a topic as largely and potentially complicated as a person’s relative self-esteem cannot be covered at any level of detail. However, it is important to appreciate how low self-esteem can have a major impact on your relationship building efforts if it is not at least basically understood and addressed.
An individual with high self-esteem is likely to build their own confidence to want to “get it” by having a positive, open and ‘can do’ attitude.
Conversely, an individual with low self-esteem is likely to lack confidence to start with. They will convince themselves (and others) that they have little that would be of interest to others in any relationship.
Make no mistake; the winners in life all “get it” Do you?