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  • Toby Sinclair

Book Summary: What's in It for Them? by Joe Polish

⭐ Rating: 8/10 - Recommended For: Leaders


3 Big Ideas from What's in It for Them? 💡


  1. People want to connect. People want to feel special and cared about. People want to feel appreciated. People want to have their problems solved. And if you’re a person who cares about others and can solve their problems—someone who understands what’s in it for them—there’s no limit to what you can accomplish or the peace and joy you can find in your own existence.

  2. To build deep connections with others be useful, grateful, and valuable. These are the foundations of strong relationships. It starts as an awareness in your mind of other people’s needs, wants, and pains, and it continues with identifying what you could add to an interaction to address or alleviate those things.

  3. Connecting with people requires a balance of trust, rapport, and comfort, and even if they all sound roughly the same, they’re actually quite distinct. Rapport is trust plus comfort. Trust is comfort plus time. Deep trust can only be established over time because time proves a person’s reliability.



2 Best Quotes from What's in It for Them? 💬


“Everyone knows people prefer to do business within strong relationships. The unanswered question was always exactly how to build those relationships.”

“Be a pain detective to connect with others. Focus first on the other person and their suffering. You and your possible solutions come second.”

The first minute summary Image

One Thing I Did After Reading


I was inspired by this exercise in What's in It for Them?


Imagine if you spent a year writing 5 to 10 personal notes, postcards, or cards every day acknowledging someone, thanking them, or sharing an article, video, or even a meme with them (with the caveat that they would want to receive these from you, of course). A year from now, your network would expand beyond your imagination, and you would be thought of as so much more caring, useful, valuable, and attentive than you are today!

Sounds simple enough.


I read What's in It for Them? over the Christmas holidays. It was a perfect time to connect with friends, family, and colleagues.


I followed Joe's advice. I looked through Whatsapp contacts. Creating a list of people I wanted to connect (reconnect) with.


Now I have a list of 15 people.


The next hurdle, what should I say?


You likely face the same struggle:


One big fear people have around connecting with others is knowing what to say. They get stuck in small talk, or feel awkward because they don’t know how to listen or how to genuinely be themselves.

Joe's tip, avoid formalities. Be fun and memorable (not borning)


I kept things simpIe. I said "Happy Christmas" followed by an open question.


I didn't ask a generic question "What are your plans?"


I asked personal question:

  • Happy Christmas. How has your little one been doing?

  • Happy Christmas. How will you be celebrating in VR?

  • Happy Christmas. How is the cold wether treating you?


I invited a connection.


These short, personal message sparked some great conversations.


Now, Imagine if I wrote a message every day.


A challenge for 2023.



 

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Big Ideas Expanded



How are they suffering? How can you help?


To be better at life and relationships, learn to ask, “How are they suffering, and how can I help?”


Before you can identify and help people who are suffering, you have to know what you’re looking for. In brief, suffering is pain. Suffering can be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual


Question for you:

What is the source of your most persistent suffering? Think about something in your life that has frustrated or challenged you for a long time—why is this still causing pain?


Be useful, grateful, and valuable


The specifics can change, but in virtually any situation, being useful, grateful, and valuable are the three keys to connecting with others—and they never depreciate or go out of style. The secret is to know what will make you seem useful, grateful, or valuable to someone in any given situation. It’s being tuned in and attentive!


While your utility has a lot to do with what you can bring to the table in terms of skills, it really begins with being concerned and conscientious—with caring about other people. It starts as an awareness in your mind of other people’s needs, wants, and pains, and it continues with identifying what you could add to an interaction to address or alleviate those things. It also involves true listening, which not everyone knows how to do.


Three connection skills to master:

  • Active listening.

  • Empathize and don’t overwhelm.

  • Offer solutions that are simple to execute.


Givers tend to be very grateful—and what’s interesting is that the more you give, the more your gratitude seems to grow. Think about it: How often is the most grateful person in the room also the most valuable person in the room or the most useful? How often is the most useful person the most valuable?


Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. How can I be more useful, grateful, and valuable to my company, to my clients, to my community, and to my family?

  2. How am I NOT being useful, grateful, valuable, and attentive to the same group of people?


Investing just 10 or 15 minutes on those exact questions will lead to countless new ideas and opportunities to be a better person.


To build connection:

  1. Be genuinely curious

  2. Sell yourself authentically

  3. Communicate vs. connect vs. escape

  4. Touch the suffering point


Be genuinely curious


One big fear people have around connecting with others is knowing what to say. They get stuck in small talk, or feel awkward because they don’t know how to listen or how to genuinely be themselves.


Rather than letting the conversation flow and opening your emotions to the other person, you’re: worried about what you’ll say next (or what they’ll say) afraid there will be pauses in the conversation rushing to fill in breaks


Sell yourself authentically


When you bring your real self to interactions and present your real opinions with kindness, you offer your authentic self to others. In a very real way, you offer them value. By giving them something first before asking for anything in return, you show you’re different from other people: You’re there to help. You’re a giver, first and foremost. Not a taker.


Communicate vs. connect vs. escape


There are only three positions any person can have in an interaction where the goal is to bond or connect with others. People are either communicating, connecting, or trying to escape. If you are truly communicating, you are in an exchange of energy and information. You may not be in perfect sync, but you are passing a ball back and forth. You are exploring each other and learning. If you are connecting, you’ve moved beyond communication and you are forming a deeper bond with each other. You recognize yourself to some degree in the other person, creating mutual trust. You have more rapport, comfort, and warmth for the other person. If you’re not communicating or connecting, you’re trying to escape. You can see this happening on a macro level and also on a micro level as interaction with another ebbs and flows.


Touch the suffering point


Be a pain detective to connect with others. Focus first on the other person and their suffering. You and your possible solutions come second.


If a co-worker complains about being overwhelmed but also notes they only had an hour of sleep the night before because their child was sick, a compassionate, empathetic boss who is a pain detective won’t just listen to the story. Depending on the employee’s reasons for losing sleep, the boss might allow the worker to go home to rest without penalty. One way to do this is to say, “Go home and get some sleep.” A more effective way is to ask, “Would getting rest right now allow you to do the work you need to do in a state of energy and not exhaustion?”


Trust, Rapport, and Comfort - Why you need all three


“Rapport is trust plus comfort.”

Neil Strauss


Connecting with people requires a balance of trust, rapport, and comfort, and even if they all sound roughly the same, they’re actually quite distinct.


However we come to it, rapport is what we’re ultimately aiming for in our interactions with other people. Once you have rapport, it means you get along. You know the other person likes you and thinks you’re worth talking to. The problem most of us have is knowing how to get to that point—and all the missteps we make along the way. Should we make more jokes? Should we ask more questions? Should we laugh harder at their jokes? Fortunately, the formula mentioned above helps answer the question. In order to have rapport, you first develop comfort and trust. And of those two, comfort must come first.


Comfort is a relatively easy thing to understand: it means that someone else has a feeling of ease and freedom with you.


In some sense, in fact, trust is “comfort plus time.”

In truth, deep trust can only be established over time, because time proves a person’s reliability.


Give Value on the Spot


To be most effective, you have to give value not in the future or in some abstract way. Instead, and whenever possible, you have to give it on the spot.


If you’re wondering about how exactly to create value on the spot for people, author Robert Collier said that you should “enter the conversation already occurring in the prospect’s mind.” It’s a keen insight into both interpersonal relationships and marketing.

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