MOTIVATING

8 Essential Truths About People

Doing well in business comes down to understanding people--your employees, coworkers, and customers. Know these truths and you're off to a good start.
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Understanding people--yourself, your employees, your coworkers and customers--is the core of all business success. With that in mind, here are eight truths to inform and illuminate your business strategies:

1. Most people mean well. While there are probably some truly evil people in the world, most people have their hearts in the right place.  They honestly believe they are trying to do the best they can with the resources they've got.

Therefore, assume good intentions, and others will be drawn to you and want to work for you.

2. People think in stories. Ever since first humans sat around the first campfire, they've been enthralled by stories because stories give meaning to events and facts that otherwise would seem random.

Therefore, weave facts into a narrative in order to attract and hold more customers, employees and investors.

3. People decide emotionally then justify intellectually. Very few people make decisions by first assessing the facts and then coming to a decision.  Most people decide from the gut and then find reasons why that was a good decision.

Therefore, when you're seeking a decision, only present facts that will elicit an emotional reaction but which then hold up to scrutiny.

4. People need to be heard. Being unable to speak, or to speak and have nobody listen, is the very definition of powerlessness.  If you don't listen, the relationship is dead.  And if you muzzle somebody, they'll detest you forever.

Therefore, bosses must fairly hear employees out and salespeople must listen more than they talk.

5. People crave strong relationships. With the exception of a few truly crazy folk, what everybody wants more than anything else is to have a deep and lasting connection with other human beings.

Therefore, every wildly successful product or service ultimately has brought people closer together in some way.

6. People avoid pain first and only then seek pleasure.  The human brain is hardwired to survive, which in prehistoric times meant staying as far away from pain as possible. Only when secure from pain do people ponder what will make them happy.

Therefore, in business situations, a "reduce your costs" message usually trumps a "grow your business" message.

7. People haven't changed much. Millennials insist that their generation is new and different. New, yes, but different, not so much. Trust me, every claim made about millennials today was once heaped on previous generations.

Therefore, value both the enthusiasm of youth and the experience of age, because both are stronger and more useful when combined.

8. People want to leave a legacy. Whether it's a successful business, a book of wisdom, or even just your children, everybody wants the slice of immortality that comes from truly making a difference.

Therefore, think hard how you spend the hours of your day because you're creating that legacy, here and now.

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IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: Jan 24, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James was recently named a "Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Master" by Forbes, and his blog has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Brandweek, and Men's Health, and he is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Programming, Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite, and, most recently, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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