What’s in it for me?

Posted by Doc
Feb 12 2009

I’m going back to my premise that we’re all born selfish, grow up selfish, and die selfish. The difference between those whom society labels as selfish and those it doesn’t is the degree to which they have not learned to socialize their selfishness.

To phrase it differently, everything I do is about me, preferably about making me feel good (about myself, of course).  If you want the context of this, please go back and read It’s All About Me.

What led to this particular post, today, was a conversation I had with an old friend of mine. She’s working as the assistant manager at a toy store, and had a question/challenge regarding one of the staff.  Here’s the dialogue:

Friend: hey, mr facilitator - I could use your advice with a co-worker's 

Me    : mmhmm

Friend: ... has been with us for ages. she got pretty pissed when I was
        made asst mgr instead of her, but she and I are working together
        ok. she gets phone calls (anyone can answer the phone) from the
        office, asking her/us to do something. she'll do the thing, but
        never tells anyone abt the msg/event, which causes problems.
        I've asked her to let us know when she gets msgs like that, she
        says she will, but doesn't. any ideas on how to change her
Friend: not sure if it's a passive/agressive thing, or what.

Me    : hmm...
Me    : Make it be to her advantage to change

Friend: hmm, to her advantage.....

Me    : so far, it's "tell me so I'll know"
Me    : how about "tell me so I can make sure you get recognition for
        all you do"?

Friend: aha!

Me    : I'd guess she has no incentive to give you what you want if
        she doesn't see the value for her
Me    : so appeal to her selfishness (you know my position on that)
Me    : and then ask her how she'd like that to work

Friend: you're absolutely right. I hadn't seen that there was no
        "her" in it
Friend: hunh!
Friend: she doesn't realize how hard we're working to keep her job
        - everything she does, and it is much, is almost invisible

And there you have it. Dealing with the reality that each of us is looking for what’s in it for us.

Yes, I said “reality”, because that’s what I believe.

I don’t think badly of the other woman that my friend is dealing with. She’s normal – she’s looking for motivation that makes sense within her world view.

Few of us do things altruistically. Even when we’re doing a good job for the benefit of the organization we work for, it’s about (a) keeping our job, and (b) enjoying the feeling of belonging to and contributing to something bigger than ourselves.

I’ll say it again – I don’t see this as a negative or bad thing. Understanding this helps me to more effectively deal with the people in my world.

If you doubt me, ask yourself the question “Why am I doing this?” and use the Five Whys technique to help you get closer to the core.

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