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Is There Room For ‘We’ In Your Elevator?

Arnie Herz at Legal Sanity recently wrote a post referencing some familiar advice for crafting an effective elevator speech. The latest conventional wisdom would have us believe that the best elevator pitch is not about us, but about the other individual. The principal strategy is to set our needs to the side and focus exclusively on the needs of the potential customer, member, or client. After all, the reason we’re in business to service them, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no. Arnie writes that this strategy misses a greater point:

Business relationships are as much about valuing and evincing our selves as they are about reaching and helping others. Both aspects (self and other) need to be expressed and honored to foster lasting connections for business success and satisfaction.

There seems to be this tacit understanding that relationships in business are different from those elsewhere in life. Perhaps it’s okay to screw over a vendor in your business, but it’s clearly not acceptable to do the same to a friend. Or maybe it’s fine to do everything to make a member happy but necessary to put conditions on making our spouses equally happy. It’s as if we are two individuals merely sharing the same skin, which might explain why we’re so damned unhappy at times.

Like Arnie, I believe there’s a different way…one that accepts that our core values define our relationships regardless if they are business or personal. There is no need for this artificial schism. What if, instead of making the elevator pitch primarily (or solely) about the other person or even selfishly about ourselves, we use the AND proposition and make it about us. The pitch then becomes one for a mutually respectful relationship where the needs of both sides have equal importance.

Not realistic? Think a customer or member is too self-interested, focused too much on what they gain? Maybe, but then, that’s the message they’ve been trained well to absorb. This is an invitation to propose a new type of relationship, one that addresses the client’s needs, but also honors our own goals, dreams, and possibilities. There’s no way to do any of this when the relationship becomes imbalanced and the customer’s needs are always put first. Actually, that’s not a relationship…it’s servitude.

And we have a choice.

From Bailey WorkPlay, first published March 8, 2006

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