What may be the biggest mistake that human beings make is when we assume others think as we do. We know this isn’t true, but instinctually we interact with people as if they were just like us. Everyone isn’t you.

We’re not all motivated alike

We’re not all motivated by the same things. However, we assume people are motivated by what motivates us. For example, I’m not primarily motivated by money. When I was in sales many of my teammates were money motivated. It confused my superiors and co-workers when a bonus didn’t motivate me to do more. I’m more motivated by recognition and competition. I want to win and then be appreciated for it. The money isn’t as important as winning for me.

If you want to know what motivates people – ask them, but be aware that motivations evolve. Motivators change with life milestones and experiences. For example, motivators may change if someone marries and then once again if they have children.

Everyone doesn’t learn like you

We assume others learn the same way we learn. For example, if you’re a visual learner, you’ll most likely train others within your learning style. But when a trainee doesn’t have the same learning style as you, it leads to frustration. I’m kinesthetic, a hands-on learner. The best way for me to retain a lesson is to do it. Hearing or watching is a difficult and unproductive way for me to learn. If you were introducing me to a new app the best way to show me is let me use it, walk me through it, or give me a checklist but if you only show and tell me what to do, I may not grasp or remember how to use it.

Not everyone wants an email

We believe everyone communicates the way we do. This assumption is two part. The first is how we use language; the second is our choice of media. I’ve recently advised several businesses to adopt something my good friend Mandi Welch uses at her company, We Are Recruiters. One of the first things she does with new clients is to ask their communication preferences. What media do they prefer, email, text, a phone call or? Does the preferred media depend on the situation? A client may prefer email in most situations, but if Mandi has scheduled a candidate interview for them, they might prefer a phone call. And it’s not only what media do they prefer but also when do they want communication and what do they want to be made aware of.

Your talents aren’t universal

We trust that others have the same talents that we have. I was sharing this concept with a management team when I used my wife and me as an example. You see, I have an almost perfect sense of time; I usually know what time it is without looking. And I always know how long something will take if there are no hitches. My wife doesn’t have this and yet after 27 years of marriage I’ll ask her, “When will you be ready to go?” She doesn’t know. That’s not one of her talents.

On the other hand, she always knows the compass direction, you could spin her round and round in an unfamiliar landscape, and she could point to the north. Me, I’m DC (directionally challenged.) I was once driving A1A on the east coast of Florida when my daughter who was riding with me said, “Turn east here.” I said, “Which way is east” she answered, “Toward the big blue water.”

A manager who attended the meeting told me later that being made aware of this changed his life. He had assumed some of the differences between him and his wife were disrespectful – that she was pushing his buttons on purpose. After the meeting, he realized their talents weren’t the same. He no longer takes it personally. He accepts their differences.

It’s easy to get caught up and assume others think like we do. To believe other people are motivated, learn, communicate, and share our talents is a common misconception. If you want to understand human beings, you must be vigilant as to the needs and wants of others because we’re not all alike, are we? Everyone isn’t you.

Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash