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Though work mates care about you, they pay more attention to messages that show there’s something in it for them, says Susan Mason, a principal of Vital Visions Consultants.

“The reality is that there are a lot of people with their own needs and their own responsibilities,” says Mason.

So, for example, if you want something from your boss—whether it’s approval on a new printer purchase or a more flexible schedule—figure out what benefit she will realize. Figure out “What’s In It For Me?” from her perspective.

“There’s a series of questions you’d ask yourself before crafting a message, so you’re setting yourself up to be successful,” Mason says.

Figure out the “WIIFM” message by asking yourself:

1. What reason will I give to justify using your valuable time to pay attention to my message?

“There has to be some benefit to her listening,” explains Mason. “Time is money. Maybe one benefit of listening to you is that you know how to get to the conversation goal quickly.”

2. What will my message do for you? How is it of value to you?

3. How does my message compare with what she already knows? Is it telling her anything new?

“Do not tell people what they already know,” says Mason. “They stop listening. Start with an understanding of what she already knows and talk from there. It makes her want to actively process along with you.”

4. Does my message offer a solution to a current challenge?

“This is Working 101, but in business you don’t go in with a problem unless you’re willing to put a suggestion forward,” she says. “So if your message offers a solution, make that clear. This is an opportunity to show you’re smart, to show your analytic powers, speed and can-do attitude.”


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