When making decisions, what is the one question you ask yourself?
Now that all that election stuff is over and I probably won’t be seeing the strong political opinions of others on Facebook (thank goodness), it got me thinking about the candidates campaigning and debating and why people make the decision to vote for a particular candidate. I didn’t really do any deep, deep thinking about it but it did bring to mind the phrase from that old Janet Jackson song, “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” along with the questions, “What are you going to do? How will it affect me/my family?” and “How will it affect others (non-family)?”
Whether consciously or subconsciously, when we have a decision to make, the one question we want answered is — What’s in it for me (WIIFM). The answer isn’t always about what you will get, it could also be “how will I feel.” Years ago my father told me “people want to know WIIFM – What’s in it for me.” It wasn’t something I had ever really thought about before but it made sense to me. Many years prior (when I was much younger) to him sharing the WIIFM principle with me I had a frustrating experience at work. The head honchos of the directorates (major work divisions) decided they wanted to reorganize and place all the financial type people who worked within their organizations into one office within their individual organizations. At the time we had a main “Comptroller” directorate and the rest of us were financial people who interacted with the Comptroller organization. We were spread out amongst the different directorates and offices within those directorates. My directorate head called those of us affected into a meeting to tell us the news of our being reassigned but also said, “If you find someplace else you’d rather go within the agency, you’re free to go.” Well this was music to my ears. My immediate supervisor knew someone who was looking to fill a position and I interviewed with him and got the job. I waited. And then one day he said he was told that my directorate head was not going to let me go. I was a little disappointed but kept on going. An acquaintance of mine was looking to hire another budget analyst. I gave her my resume, we talked and she wanted to hire me. I waited. The news came back that Mr. X and my directorate head had made an agreement that they would “not steal” any of their budget people from one another. I was a little ticked. This was twice now that I had been blocked from taking another job. I kept looking. I knew a director in another directorate that had some budget positions available. A good friend of mine and I applied for the positions. They wanted both of us. Great news I thought — we’ll be able to work together. I waited and waited. Finally my friend received the “official” telephone call from personnel (Human Resources) offering her one of the budget positions. I was wondering why I hadn’t received a call. I called one of the guys I had interviewed with who had said he wanted me for one of the positions and I called personnel. In a nut shell I was told, “The directorate heads have all made an agreement not to take each other’s financial people.” Now I was really upset. They were messing with my career! I remember saying to the nice lady from personnel, “If that’s the case, why bother applying for any jobs?” And she said, “Don’t give up. You never know, things can change.” It was just what I needed to hear to keep me going. About a day later my friend received a phone call telling her that personnel had offered her the job by mistake and that she was not supposed to have gotten that call. So, my friend was stuck too. She ended up taking a job outside the agency. One day, not long after, I saw a job announcement via email and I knew the job was mine. I can’t explain how I knew it, I guess it was just a feeling, plus the fact that this position was in Corporate Operations. That was the directorate that was a direct extension of the Office of the Commander (the Admiral) of the agency. And I knew that if he wanted me, he out-trumped the other directorate heads. The Admiral was the head honcho of the agency. In essence, everybody worked for him. I knew if he wanted me, he had the power to make it happen. And I was right. I got the job without any problem. They brought another women in to fill my position and I trained her for awhile before I moved on to my new position. The whole time I had been looking at things from the perspective of “What’s in it for me?” but so had my immediate directorate head (I believe he was looking at it from the perspective of what was in it for his organization) – and he had decided that he didn’t want to let me go those 3 previous times. Live and learn.
While I had this WIIFM thing on my mind I decided to surf the web to see if I could find any information on it. This is one thing I found:
What’s In It For Me?
Written by Steve Martin
President, Natural Encounters, Inc.
Presented at the IAATE Conference
Toronto, Canada 2004
What’s In It For Me? That question drives most every decision you make. From the moment you wake up in the morning, “What’s in it for me” is the subconscious mantra playing quietly in the back of your head. These five words help you choose what clothes to wear, what food to eat, what people to hang around with, what movie to watch, and so on. They also help you evaluate risks: do you dare walk across that fallen log, do you try to make that traffic light, do you ask for a raise, do you ask her out, do you get a Bald Eagle, do you find a new job, do I go on with these examples, do I write do I go on with these examples….?
What’s in it for me is not always about what we will get, it is often about how we will feel. We are often inspired to do things for the feelings of pride, compassion, sharing, safety, security, thrill, excitement, etc. Our subconscious mind helps us make appropriate decisions based on our experience, motivation, and our prediction of the rewards and risks associated with our actions.
Think about it. Businesses, advertisers and politicians all get to us by using the WIIFM principle. They appeal to us with the lure — if you buy and use this product or purchase this information — your life will improve and/or your dreams will come true, you will look better, you will lose weight, you will smell better, your hair will smell better and look better, you will make more money, you can win by playing the lottery/gambling (if you win big you could become so rich that you can quit your job and live happily ever after, your problem(s) will be solved, you will meet the man/woman of your dreams (think internet dating sites), you will have a happier relationship, you will feel better emotionally and/or physically (think about all those ads for drugs, ads for energy drinks & so-called “healthy cereals,” feminine products, sex products), you will feel safe/safer/protected (i.e. alarm systems, carrying guns or having them in your home), you will become happy or happier, etc. Negotiations even happen using the WIIFM principle. Even your family and friends will sometimes appeal to you using the WIIFM principle. I remember whenever my father would break the news to us that the military was moving us once again, he also used to point out all the benefits he could think of that would appeal to us about moving to the new area. Bless his heart, he just wanted us to “feel better.” It helped to ease the pain a little but I was still upset about having to leave my friends and once again be the new kid at school. I would remain upset until the time we moved and I made new friends.
I say all this not to say that people don’t do things for others. Sometimes we can really come together as a country. Especially when it comes to donating items and raising money for a cause (but even that comes with a tax write off). I think some people are only concerned with getting, with receiving for themselves and their family and don’t really care about others or giving to others. Some people give just so they can get — they are trying to manipulate you to get what they want/have things their way. Some people give because they care about others but it also makes them feel good, feel happy inside to give by their choice. What’s in it for you? What’s in it for me? I’ll wrap this up with these two Bible verses about giving:
Deuteronomy 15:10-11 (New International Version (NIV)) – Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (New International Version (NIV)) – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.