A life-changing tip from a superhero, a bible character and Emmet from The Lego Movie

28th October 2014

Hollywood actor Chris Pratt starred in one of this year’s biggest films – ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. He said his audition with film studio Marvel went something like this:

Marvel: “Hi, we’re Marvel

     Chris: “I’ll do anything

Marvel: “Yes, you will”

This dialogue is similar to how many conversations go – especially when one party thinks the other holds all the power.

For example, a small business owner wanting to make a sale to a large multinational:

We’re a dream customer for you

     “I’ll do anything

Yes you will. And you’ll charge us less than you charge everybody else. And we’ll take longer to pay.”

Or your boss calling you in, to give you some work:

I’m your boss

     “I’ll do any time

Yes you will. Tonight at 8pm is best for me

Or if you’re interviewing for a new job at a prestigious company:

We’re the ideal job for you

     “I’ll do anything

Yes you will. Some of it might not match your core strengths. And we’ll pay you a bit less than you were wanting

I take it some of these sound familiar?

And who do you think gets what they want from conversations like this? You or the other guy?

The secret to speaking as their peer is to recognise that you have something valuable that others can’t offer, and focus on that. Don’t let subservience be your differentiator.

So, at your next meeting with someone very important, bring them value that others can’t. Teach them something they find useful. Share relevant stories and experiences. Ask what their priority is and prove you can help them achieve it.

This isn’t a new idea. When David fought Goliath, he didn’t do it hand-to-hand. He’d have lost. Instead, he stood a distance away, and threw stones at him – a skill he’d been mastering for years.

Yes, your customer/boss/interviewer might appear more important than you. Just as Marvel is bigger than Chris Pratt. But he’s soon appearing in the new Jurassic Park film. He voiced the lead character in the chart-topping Lego Movie. He’s obviously got something special about him. And so have you. Make sure others see it.

Action point

Find your unique thing – something others perceive valuable that they can’t get anywhere else.

Then work out the best way to bring this up in important conversations, so you position yourself as their peer, not their subordinate.

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