Seek to Give or Get?
After reading many books on communication, I’ve noticed that many focus on communicating as a way of securing what we want from others. Oftentimes, these same books highlight the need to listen for what we can ‘get’ out of people, instead of what we can ‘give’ to people by listening to them. This has everything to do with our listening mindset. In other words, before we can jump further into active listening, we must first understand why we’re listening in the first place. Once we know what we’re ‘in it’ for, then we can go on to discover a whole host of interesting information.
Get Vs. Give
Often, we think of listening in the context of overcoming some hurdle with a person or a group of people. To boil this concept down even further and help you determine which mindset you have before entering an interaction, see the table below and ask yourself which one of these questions is on your mind the most beforehand. If you are looking for what you stand to gain in an interaction and not how you can best serve, you are in a ‘get’ mindset.
|A ‘Get’ Mindset||A ‘Give’ Mindset|
|What do I stand to gain from this interaction?||How can I be of service in this interaction, and put the other person’s needs first?|
In sales or customer service, that hurdle might be, “How can I convince them to buy from me?”, or “How can we keep them as a customer?” or “How can I deescalate this customer from this angry place?”
Think of the last time you were in a store trying to purchase something, and you had a salesperson approach you. If the said salesperson is overly pushy, you probably wanted to leave just to get away from them, right? If they don’t understand the delicate balance between helping you as the customer and giving you some space to make a decision, you’ll feel uncomfortable and leave the store, rather than making a purchase. The problem with the get mentality is that it turns people off fast. In general, people want to buy, but they don’t want to be sold.
Many leaders misunderstand the “give” mentality. In the “give” mentality, the philosophy is fundamentally different. It’s more about “What value can I provide to this person so that he or she feels like they’ve received honest value and they feel valued themselves?” So, in the context of giving, if I am speaking with a customer about a concern they have, I need to make sure my mindset is focused on “giving” them not just what they might ask me for, but even more. This is because our giving mindset makes us seek to serve them, not manipulate them or “get” what we expect to “get” out of the interaction. But often leaders think that just by rephrasing their sales conversation in such a way that they’re “giving” customers and clients the “gift” of working with them, that it changes things. Though when asking, “How can I help you?” - it’s still just another way of saying, “What can I sell you?”
So if you’re focusing on building relationships and getting to know people and providing true, honest value to them, whether it’s a part of your organization or in your personal life, then you probably do have the “give” mentality that is needed for better growth and development.
If we go into interactions with the mindset that we’re focused on giving, then we’ll be in the position to truly start to listen more effectively. When we do this, those who interact with us will feel heard, and valued, and they will behave in ways that benefit everyone.