I ordered a book from Amazon, gift wrapped for a friend’s birthday. It arrived complete with the little card that had my special message in it. And … Amazon’s logo on the outside. Really? Amazon feels the need to piggyback their branding on my gift? If they offer the service of gift-wrapping, that’s great. That’s wonderful. I even paid $4 for that! But if they want me to provide them with free advertising, piggy-backing on the emotional warmth of my relationship with my friend, they should be paying me. A lot. Because there are some things in life that just aren’t meant to be a business opportunity.

What Amazon is missing here is understanding my needs. I want to create a special, two-way emotional connection between me and a friend. They help by providing the book I’m buying, and wrapping it beautifully. And that’s where their involvement should end. Then when I think of Amazon, I think of them as facilitating what’s really important to me—that connection.

Consider Their Needs, not Yours

When you’re doing something nice for someone, be it providing a solution to a customer, a favor to a friend, or a surprise to a loved one, take a few moments to consider their needs. What do they want in the moment? If your goal is to strengthen your relationship with them, put their needs first. If you’re going to surprise your partner for Valentine’s Day, ask what they would consider romantic. Not what you consider romantic. My idea of romantic music is Blink-182. But if the person I’m romancing prefers a Wagnerian opera, that’s what will be romantic.

Just as considering their needs will create the tighter relationship, ignoring their needs can destroy it. A client wanted to acknowledge a summer intern for a job well done. The intern simply wanted to be in the team photo that was going out to clients at the end of the month. The boss thought an intern didn’t belong in a company photo, and instead gave a beautiful Thank You card. Unfortunately, to the intern, inclusion in the picture meant appreciation. Without that inclusion, the Thank You came across as an empty gesture. Rewarding someone means choosing a reward that they value.

Take a moment now to think about the important people in your work and life. What kind of relationship do you want with them? How do you want them to feel about you? What have you done to engender those feelings? Satisfy their needs and you’re on your way to a long, loyal relationship.

In Business and Life, Understand *Their* Needs

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