Business psychology

Why playing to serve is better than playing to win

- June 28, 2013 2 MIN READ

In today’s business environment it’s hard to resist trying to get ahead of the competition. But playing to win doesn’t do business owners any favours. Here’s why playing to serve will serve you better.

Since starting my business and meeting people at various networking events, I’ve realised that I maintain friendships and relationships better with those who seemed more interested in how we could help each other rather than how I could help them alone.

It’s not hard to see how these people are winning in business.

You see, when you befriend someone who is genuinely interested in reciprocating the relationship, it’s easier to be ‘in sync’ with this person – to genuinely give back to them and to return to them again and again – because trust is established from the outset.

‘Reciprocation’ is one of marketing professor Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion, based on the idea that if you do someone a favour, they’ll feel obliged to reciprocate. But I think there’s more to reciprocity than a feeling of obligation. My view is that if someone is genuinely interested in serving us, we feel safe and secure, and it’s this feeling that motivates us to return.

One of the relationships I’ve built is with a colleague who runs his own de-clutter business. He’s highly successful. Yes, he markets well. Yes, he has over 20 years’ experience in property consulting and therefore knows where to put things. Yes, he has wonderful customer service techniques, engagement and follow-through. But there’s something very different about him.

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He’s not in business to compete, or be the best, or to win. He’s simply in business to build relationships and change people’s lives. He sees beyond the tasks and into the results and what it will mean for people if he organises their lives, de-clutters their space (and therefore minds) and gets them a genuinely good price on their homes. He sees that he might be helping people’s mental health, improving their family’s future, and saving them from being drowned by their ‘stuff’.

He’s not there to win. He’s there to serve.

And by doing this, he’s winning.

So, just how does he do it?

He asks himself the simple question before he sees every one of his clients, “How can I best help?”

The rest looks after itself.

It’s that simple.

How is your business serving the lives of others?