Conniving, heartless, power hungry, goal focused, destroy anything in your path. That's our image of Machiavelli. Well, he actually wasn't all that, but that's the message that has been gleaned from The Prince, his treatise to his prince on how to govern.
Mother Teresa must have studied The Prince well because she learned the book's lessons well. And Machiavelli must have been friends with Nostradamus to have envisioned the means by which to create great working relationships in modern American business.
What did Machiavelli understand about modern business so well that he taught it to Mother Teresa and she used it so successfully?
Fortunately, it isn't the ruthlessness, the exercise of power, or the need to be vigilant in identifying and destroying threats, although it sounds like some modern businesspeople have been reading The Prince also.
What Machiavelli and Mother Teresa understood so well was human nature. They understood how to get what they wanted without the use of force, of ruthlessness, of power. They understood how to create relationships that brought people to do their bidding (admittedly, in Machiavelli's vision there was always the threat of the more unpleasant means if one sought to resist).
Unlike so many today who try to take advantage of their connections to get what they want, Machiavelli and Mother Teresa understood that you must first give in order to get.
So often I see salespeople and business owners try to coerce people they meet into buying from them or giving them referrals. Not coerce in the sense of force, but rather coerce by immediately overwhelming them with information about who they are, what they do, their great products or service, their stupendous customer service, their unbelievable offers.
They hardly give the other person an opportunity to breath.
They don't take the time to learn a thing about the other person or what they may or may not need or want.
Their approach is that of a volcano, spewing forth words like lava, hoping to bury them in so much hot BS that the other person capitulates in order to just survive the encounter.
Any of us who have been to a networking event, conference, or seminar have met these people. They swarm the floor like flies, moving from person to person with fantastic speed, leaving in their wake a series of potential connections who hope they never encounter that salesperson again.
We meet them and are appalled. We think to ourselves, "What a dufess."
But in reality, that dufess just might be us. It's so easy to fall into that type of behavior without even recognizing it.
Mother Teresa and Machiavelli understood the fruitlessness of this behavior. They understood that in order get what they wanted they had to first take a sincere (Mother Teresa) or calculated (Machiavelli) interest in the other person and to find something of value they could give-and then they could expect to get. And more importantly, they understood the value they gave had to be something the other person recognized as valuable. They understood that they had to dig; they had to discover what was valuable to the person they were dealing with. They didn't give something they thought was of value; they gave what the other person thought was of value-even if that was something they would not have thought of being of much value themselves.
Whether sincere or calculated, if you want value from your connections, be they clients, family, friends, or new acquaintances, you must find ways to first give value. And you don't get to decide what's valuable and what isn't-that is for the person you're trying to connect with to decide.
And for their effort what did Machiavelli and Mother Teresa get? Machiavelli's prince got power. Mother Teresa got the funding and the ability to carry out her work. Each had very different objectives, but they got them the same way. You can too.
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