Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Breaking the WIIFM barrier

By StartupStockPhotos on Pixabay
I was in a discussion the other day about trying to persuade a group of people to adopt a new behavior. It was something that made total business sense, but would have caused the group additional work.

It was pretty obvious that the group felt that additional work was being forced on them and they would not reap the benefits.

I think what was happening was a devolution to a general question that plagues all of us, even when we are trying to do our best for the organization: "What's in it for me?" or WIIFM (pronounced "whiff-em" in some circles - not mine) for short.

The key to persuading someone to change behavior and take action in a certain way often runs up against this WIIFM barrier, as I call it. The way around this barrier is to embrace it and break it down. Warning - it doesn't always work.

There is a level of empathy required to be able to truly perceive the exchange from the other party's point of view. And if you  are asking a person or group to accept additional work, the most important thing is to think from their perspective and understand why that additional work would be good for them. If they don't agree with it, your adoption will be low.

Sometimes it is an uphill battle to think from another perspective.

But let's take a live example. Right now, why should you change your behavior to think about other perspectives?

  • You aren't having success at persuading others
  • The right thing to do seems obvious to you, but requires too much explaining
  • Any way you pursue it is perceived as "shoving things down others' throats"
Any of these sound familiar? If any of this sounds like something you are running up against, perhaps you are hitting the WIIFM barrier.

Now, let me give you a tip - you are frustrated because you are only thinking about it from your own perspective - what's in it for you if they help you out. Time to start thinking what's in it for them as well. Be a team.