Don’t Let Others Use You: Prioritize Those Who Prioritize You

Dave Meltzer discusses how to prioritize the people and things in your life.
Prioritization and Reciprocation: Asking and Receiving Help

Prioritization is such a critical component to everything we do, but can also be one of the most difficult parts of our day.  How do you decide where to focus your energy and attention in order to accomplish the goals in front of you?

I urge my employees to be students of their calendars; learn to prioritize all of the different daily activities on our action item list so we can achieve statistical success, efficiency, and effectiveness. Utilizing the mission equation and giving it focus allows us to make sure that we’re doing the important things first, not just what is urgent.

Asking for Help

An important part of setting priorities and accomplishing goals is our reliance on the help of others. Needing help is something that we all run into, but many of us are apprehensive when it comes time to ask for the assistance of others.  Asking for help is one of the best ways that we prioritize things because we create efficiencies for ourselves that did not previously exist. Knowing the things that you do not know (and asking for help) saves us time trying to figure things out as well keeps us from paying any “dummy tax”.

One study conducted by Stanford professor Frank Flynn shows that we tend to grossly underestimate how likely it is that others will grant us a favor. For example, participants were asked to estimate the number of strangers who would agree to let them borrow their cell phones to make a call. They consistently underestimated the number by 50 percent, assuming people would usually say no to their requests. The truth is, most people will help you if they are capable of doing so, despite our assumptions otherwise.

Are you a priority?

How we choose to prioritize people can oftentimes be misleading. I have come to the realization that we frequently give priority to people for whom we are just a convenience. Giving time and energy to people who do not reciprocate wastes our resources.

When this occurs, we lose our resources and momentum, leading us to attract more of what we don’t want into our lives. It is very important that we prioritize those people who prioritize us and help those people who help us. When people are asking for help, they’re really focusing on how big “the ask” is. They’re thinking not so much about the cost of saying yes, but the cost of saying no. How awkward would it be for me to say no? How uncomfortable would I feel? Guilt works its way into the equation when people ask for favors.

Testing Theories

To test this theory, you can ask random people to do two minor tasks for you. What Stanford researchers found was that the percentage of people saying yes to a second request was higher than the percentage of people saying yes to the first request. Saying no the first time actually made people more likely to say yes the second time, even though the two favors were equal in size. Try it yourself to see the effects of guilt in action.

People as a Priority

Many times, we don’t distinguish those in our lives who give us priority. We allow our egos to get in the way. We must always look to see if we are wasting our time and attracting the wrong people (or the wrong ideas). Detrimental people are those who frequently ask us for help but never reciprocate it. These “users” take advantage of our kindness, without realizing the voids they create in the process. They don’t need lessons on asking for help, but should absolutely learn to give it.

Prioritize Finding a Balance

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those people who are more than happy to rush to your aid but refuse to ever let you return the favor. We need to prioritize the people who prioritize us, and we need to help those who don’t normally receive, despite their own misgivings. Show them how to balance their giving and receiving values, because people tend to come across problems when there is an uneven relationship between the two. My mother is a great example of this, she was so giving to everyone, especially her kids, but hardly ever had enough resources to take care of herself. We must be willing to utilize our giving as well as our receiving principles. Utilize your awareness in order to prioritize those people in your life that prioritize you. Let those people who treat you as a convenience fall away, and pray for their happiness.

By: Dave Meltzer

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