What do you care about? This is a question we don’t ask very often. I attended a start-up pitch competition recently. Each presenter talked passionately about their vision and yet very few connected to my cares. Instead, they talked more and more about why I should care.
Our default is to push harder
In doing this they made the mistake of believing they can tell me what I should care about. I came across another example where a leader had been told by their CEO to make something happen. To do this they needed the help of their peers who resisted. Our default response is to push harder. To tell them the CEO said do it. And yet, still they quietly resisted.
These people had other cares and priorities. Perhaps other directives from the CEO to fulfill. Maybe they had too much to do and nobody to help them prioritize. If asked a different question, I am confident they would provide a different response. Something like, “tell me what you are working on, how can I help?” That would build trust and an provide an opening to understand what they care about right now.
Coming back to the pitch competition. When the presenters did start to talk about their underlying cares, I could decide if theirs aligned with mine. Some did, others did not. Entrepreneurs can’t appeal to everyone. That’s the strategy of appealing to no one. They are seeking their tribe. The people who see the world in the same way. The ones interested in what they offer. Trying to sell to people who don’t care is at best a waste of energy and attention. At its worst, it is a turn off, making our jobs even more difficult.
Aligning our care
When we are trying to convince others, it is important to step back and realize we can’t tell others what to care about. We can make a connection and see if our cares align. What should we do if they don’t align? That depends. The entrepreneur can choose to serve someone else. The business leader, in the example above, has a more difficult challenge. The work has to get done. If people aren’t willing to do it, that leads to an important conversation. What would have to happen for it to get done? If you ask the right question they will tell you the answer.
How are you going about winning people over?