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Transactions vs. Interactions

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Transactions vs. Interactions
(click for podcast) (7:05 min.)
1-hit wonders vs. sustained relationships
If you’re familiar with Venn diagrams or set theory, transactions and interactions intersect. Either can stand alone, but where interactions can improve and increase transactions, it rarely goes the other direction. To take advantage of this, we need to look at our frame of mind first.

There’s an enormous difference in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors depending on a certain level of thinking. To keep it simple, I’m going to borrow some terminology from Ken Wilber’s Integral Consciousness model.

We’re going to focus on what we’ll call Tier I thinking and Tier II thinking. The easiest way to think about this is Tier I is “I, me, mine” thinking, and Tier II is “us, we, and them” thinking. We hopefully progress and evolve from Tier I to Tier II as we grow up and become more socialized.

Over the past few years we’ve isolated ourselves or been isolated more and more. This tends to place us in a more Tier I perspective, as we’re in a “me dealing with the world” mode.

There are many other reasons for Tier I thinking. It’s where we all began. We were the first person we ever knew. Many of us start our younger years in a crib, where everything literally revolved around us. It’s the most normal perspective to have in that case. Of course we’re supposed to grow beyond this stage, so that our perspective is about being a part of the larger group.

Again for many reasons (eg. youth and beauty above all else) we find more and more adults either stuck in or returning to that younger mindset. Another reason we dip back into Tier I is stress. When we get into survival thinking our focus obviously becomes more on ourselves.

This Tier I thinking between people results in a quid pro quo mindset. Even in couples, you’ll see the “what I did for you; what did you do for me” mentality. Two separate entities, keeping score. If we’re going to do this with those we’re close to, it follows that we’ll likely take this frame of mind with us into all kinds of situations.

An obvious transaction scenario is large retail; where you take money for an item, and it’s not really about a relationship with the customer. If the customer returns, it’s generally for the item. Two isolated entities trading things for things. This doesn’t do anything to bond the two entities. Something is simply passed back and forth between them.

Now, what if you want something sustainable? What if you want something that lasts in the time between those transactions? Let’s say your organization has the capability for long-term repeat business; perhaps even with increasing purchases or offers. What you want now is a kind of “glue” for the space between the entities.

When we interact we create a third entity; the relationship. That connection has a life of its own, and can grow or dissipate depending on the interaction. When we nurture this space between, it doesn’t detract from our ability to have transactions; it gives us a sustainable environment for that and more. We build trust and a sense of calm, as being part of the same team removes the  you vs. them feeling. They know they can come to you with questions or for advice, and this creates a bond that doesn’t happen in a mere transaction.

So what’s the trade-off? Transactions are faster and barely involve you. (Some may indeed prefer this.) Transactions exemplify “it’s a numbers game;” going through tons of people quickly. Interactions are more organic, so they take time to develop, and you do get involved, because now you’re part of the “benefit” to the customer. Rather than a big numbers game, it turns into more of the “4 quarters is less work than 100 pennies” game. It’s about a more select group of long term customers who stick with you, rather than constantly chasing more and more new people.

So how do we shift from transaction to interaction? If I start our conversation with a a sales pitch, or a history of my company, you’re probably going to glaze over pretty quickly. If I start with questions about you: what’s important to you, and what you want in your life, we start to form that bond. The more I learn about you, the more I can see where I might be able to help you. When that bond is formed, I can offer this help, and then bring up my company or services as our tool to back us up.

Interactions are our normal human way of connecting with one another. This allows us to go far beyond one-hit transactions, to lifelong interactions that can contain many transactions over time.

Want to learn more about how to become the best you possible? How your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?
Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.

     - Ian J. Blei


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