While out on a hike recently, I met a friendly couple who were out collecting pinecones. We started chatting, and soon they began telling me all about a horse rescue farm where they spend most of their free time volunteering. They went on and on about how magical the farm is, and before we parted ways, they invited me to stop by any time to enjoy the animals (horses, goats, chickens, cats and dogs) and the peaceful surrounding.
I was intrigued, and I visited the Bergen County Horse Rescue farm as soon as possible!
That Sunday afternoon when I pulled my car onto the dirt driveway of the farm, I could immediately see and feel what the couple had been talking about. It is a beautiful place, and I couldn’t wait to step out of the car to visit my new friends and the rescue animals.
I could see the couple at a distance with other guests, so I just moseyed up to the wooden fence that corralled the horses to pet them and enjoy the gorgeous weather.
The horses quickly noticed me standing by the fence, and they all started to make their way over to check me out. Or so I thought. Soon, though, I realized that the horses weren’t interested in me, but rather my pockets that could be full of treats. When they realized I had nothing to offer, they ambled away.
As I stood there, feeling dejected that these horses didn’t seem to like me, it occurred to me that I was making it all about me, and not including the horses’ desires and needs at all.
Dale Carnegie said it best in his best-selling book How To Win Friends and Influence People: “People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves morning, noon, and night.” I guess horses are too.
Whether you’re trying to make friends with a horse, approaching a person for potential networking, or persuading your boss to go with a new idea, having a basic and realistic understanding of human nature will help you to be most effective. Work with human nature and not against it, and you’ll see positive results every time.
Here are 5 common traits of human nature and tips for how to use your knowledge for a winning outcome. (Just remember that we should always use our highest sense of integrity and respect when trying to persuade or influence others.)
1. The Need to Do Things that Bring Benefits
In other words, we all ask, “What’s in it for me?” Whether you consciously realize it or not, we all consider this question constantly. As human beings, we do the things we do because we seek some kind of pay-off or benefit.
When trying to pitch an idea to others, ask yourself “What’s in it for them?” and adjust your pitch accordingly before talking to the team or individual you’re trying to persuade.
2. The Need for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging
We all have the basic human need to love and to be loved, the need to contribute in a meaningful way, the need for satisfying work, and the need to feel needed.
As a leader, you can help others to find meaning in what they do by matching them up with ideas that make their personalities and skills shine. Another way to support this human need is to develop a team in which everyone is appreciated, valuable, and respected.
3. The Need for Challenge and Accomplishment
As human beings, we thrive on challenge and accomplishment. We have a natural need to grow beyond where we currently are and see positive results.
Work with people to find areas in which they want to grow. Does a podcaster want to be interviewed by you? How can you monetize a website? Get to know who you’re pitching to before you present your idea, and remember that successful entrepreneurs and business people live for good challenges.
4. The Tendency to Resist Change
We function according to the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and habits we’ve lived with for years. Basically, living in our comfort zone causes us to feel in control, and we don’t want to lose that stable feeling. Therefore, we resist anything that may even hint at taking that away (whether the threat is real or imagined.)
Knowing this, you can attempt to maintain that feeling of control as much as possible for the people you’re trying to convince. Inviting them into your process and communicating well will make them feel more in control (even if you’re still the one at the wheel), and this will ease their resistance to change. People are more likely to accept change if they feel like they’re included in the process.
5. The Tendency to Take the Path of Least Resistance
Humans are always looking for the easy way if there’s one available. Sometimes the path of least resistance makes sense, such as in working smarter rather than working harder.
Apply this concept by remembering to never make other people’s jobs or lives harder than they have to be. This could be as simple as sending a car to pick someone up for a meeting or as complex as doing all the research for a speaker you want at a convention that you can’t afford to pay. Again ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” and now add, “How can I make it easier or effortless for them?”
It’s been months since my first visit to the Bergen County Horse Rescue Farm, and every time I go back, I make sure to bring carrots and offer my assistance as a new official volunteer at the farm.
Who knew that horses had so much wisdom to offer about human nature? Thanks to their example, though, I now always remember to ask, “What’s in it for them?” so that I can make the most of the benefits for me.
To learn more about the Bergen County Horse Rescue Farm visit http://www.bergencountyhorserescue.org/
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on April 3, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com