One simple but powerful mindset will completely transform your relationships.

Penny Ferguson once put it to me like this…. Just imagine that for one day you could have everyone you come across at work and at home treat you exactly the way you wish to be treated. How would you have them treat you? With respect? Honestly? With kindness and consideration?

Right – time to wake up and get back to the real world. In the real world can we really make someone treat us with respect? Can we make someone be honest with us? Can we make them treat us kindly and considerately? Nope. Those buttons simply don’t exist.

Where’s the remote control?

The harsh reality of life is that people don’t come with remote controls. There are no real buttons to press that deliver exactly the outcomes we want. That’s not the end of it of course, because we can influence the way they treat us.

But how? What’s the one thing we can do to influence the way others treat us?

The one thing we can do to ensure we exert maximum influence on the way others treat us is to focus on our own behaviour.

Because when we want someone to treat us with respect, if we want someone to be honest in their dealings with us, if we want someone to show kindness and consideration then we need to be respectful, honest, kind and considerate in our dealings with them. Our list of how we wish to be treated becomes a list of how we need to be in the world to get what we want.

Focus on what you give…

Of course we need to take into account different preferences and personalities – but the key is to stop focusing on what we are getting from other people – and to focus on what we give! After all – we simply cannot control what we get from other people, but we have 100% control over what we give.

A friend of mine often tells the story of his first self-help CD. Right at the start a voice said “I want you to close your eyes and think of your dream partner.” It wasn’t long before he had a mental picture of Jennifer Aniston stepping through the door. Next was the question “Now what kind of person do you need to be to attract this partner?” Unfortunately that wasn’t quite what he had in mind as he sat on his sofa in a curry stained vest with a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale!

The secret is not to focus our attention on what we get – but on what we give. When you think about it this is incredibly empowering.

… To get what you want!

Not only that, whist it’s a good thing to know what we want from others, when we focus our attention on what we get, rather than what we give, it actually reduces the chances of getting what we want! Let me explain. When we focus purely on what we get from others, the minute we don’t get what we want we blame them – and our consequential frustration with them adversely affects the way we behave towards them. The deterioration in our behaviour leads to a deterioration in their behaviour and before we know it the relationship, and what we get from it, has fallen to the lowest common denominator. By focusing on what we get we are less likely to receive what we want. Yet by focusing on what we give, we are far more likely to receive what we want. It’s not about finding the perfect partner, colleague or child – it’s about being the partner, colleague or parent who would attract or bring out the best in the relationships we have.

Dave Udy once put it like this “What other people do is what other people do, what we do with it is up to us.”

“I’ve got the power”

And when we get used to it, it’s an incredibly empowering place to be. Think about the conversation you’ve been dreading with that ‘difficult’ team member – how do your feelings change when instead of focusing on what you expect to get from them in return, you focus on what you are going to give them? Perhaps an opportunity to kick start their career, to develop, or to overcome what has been holding them back? You aren’t focused on how they will behave – you simply focus on what you are going to give them. Now you are back in control. You feel better about it – and you are more likely to get what you want in the process! What about a job interview? Instead of worrying about what they think of you, simply focus on giving them a clear idea of who you are and what your key strengths are. You will feel infinitely better about the interview and will perform at your best – giving yourself the best chance of getting the job – or, worst case scenario, saving yourself from stepping into a job that doesn’t allow you to use your strengths.

Every time your confidence starts to take a nose dive, you are probably focusing on what you will get from others, and not focusing your attention on the only thing you can control – what you give.

Try it out for size today – and notice your composure and confidence rise in even the most difficult situations. More than that, notice you are dramatically increasing your success rate for getting the responses you want. It’s the ultimate secret of influence.

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Peter Anderton

Author: Peter Anderton

A sought after coach and change agent, Peter has spent many years in Organisational Development, focusing on developing high performance leadership teams, executive coaching, strategy and change. He builds relationships quickly and is as comfortable in the boardroom as he is at ‘grass roots’. Known for his integrity, energy and a real passion for making things happen, he has a uniquely direct yet supportive style that delivers.

Peter is a qualified NLP master practitioner, a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a Chartered Engineer.