What's in it for me? versus How can I help you?

Balance pointThere are two mindsets that predominate many people’s thinking.While we might see a crisp distinction between them and have a strong desire to go one way or the other, I want to explore why a happy medium might be very healthy for you.

What’s in it for me?

The “what’s in it for me?” mindset brings to mind that person who will never do anything unless they benefit. If you would ask them to volunteer for a project, they would give you a flat out “No” unless they could find a “what’s in it for me?” angle that would really benefit them. I remember an individual who was a high power insurance salesperson. He joined organizations and rapidly applied his skill sets to position himself into the best possible place to connect with the most people.

He was highly skilled in building what seemed like relationships and was very attentive in his listening skill as long as the “what’s in it for me?’ side of him was getting payback. However, he either found fault with you or dropped you like a hot potato if you didn’t turn into his newest customer. If you got in his way, look out.

The What’s in it for me? perspective will in the short-run get you to your goals because most people who are operating from the What’s in it for me? mindset are driven and generally successful. However, the What’s in it for me? angle only works until the people around you figure it out. Then you will need to move on to a new group, organization, or company.

How can I help you?

At first glance, especially after reading the What’s in it for me? discussion above, how can I help you? sounds like the best way to be. And in most cases, it is. But like with most things, it can be taken too far. The How can I help you? person is the one you can count on to be there when you need them. They are America’s volunteer force and in companies, they are the ones taking on extra work, staying late to make sure the job gets done, and being the helpful person everywhere they go.

Sounds good, right? What’s the downside then? The How can I help you? person is often working so hard to help that they never ask what’s in it for me? It is easy for them to get steamrollered by people who recognize them as the one who will do the work. And they can easily lose out on the income side too because they never showcase anything they do. When they look back on a career or volunteer past, they don’t even generally see any accomplishments.

Where’s the middle ground?

While I believe firmly in the How can I help you? mindset as critical to the future, they need a small dose of What’s in it for me? The What’s in it for me? mindset focuses too heavily on income-producing strategies often destroying people in their path. But the How can I help you? mindset can sometimes be scammed by the first person who recognizes that they are easy to manipulate.

If you take time to check where you are on this continuum regularly and try to find the balance point, you will be more successful than if you swing too hard one way or the other.

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10 Comments

  1. Hilary on May 1, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Great article – very unique and important perspective for one’s professional and personal life. Thank you!

    • Julie Walraven on May 1, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Hilary, thank you so much for the comment… I appreciate you stopping by!

  2. Perry on May 1, 2012 at 7:34 am

    It was a wonderful concept of post. Thanks for sharing these with us. Please keep it up.

  3. Ella on May 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing your great post with us. Looking forward for more usable and informative blog from your site.

  4. Leonard on May 3, 2012 at 1:10 am

    I am glad I read this, this is a good article. Thanks for giving us some of knowledge.

  5. Paul Harry on May 14, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Very valuable and helpful material Julie. Really helped me out. Please keep these kinda information up !
    Thanks ….

    • Julie Walraven on May 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      You’re welcome, Paul… if you have any specific requests, let me know!

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