“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
- John 15:13
“If you want people to be interested in you,” Dale Carnegie wrote in his still popular 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People, “take a genuine interest in other people.” That is to say, when you are genuinely curious about others, about their lives and what they value, you will inevitably connect with them.
When we were preparing to put our house on the market a few years ago, we prudently lined up several real estate agents to interview. All were experienced with strong credentials and came highly recommended by people we knew. The first three sat with us around our dining room table presenting impressive résumés and brilliant marketing ideas. It appeared it was going to be a difficult choice. Then Susan showed up. She too had terrific credentials and great ideas for selling our home, but that came much later in the conversation. First she was interested in us, our goals and desires, our values, and how selling our home and relocating would help fulfill our hopes and dreams. It was the tipping point in the interviews; for Susan was the only one who expressed genuine interest in us, not just in selling our house. Furthermore, she’s the only one who thought to inquire where we planned to move, so we ultimately engaged her as our buying agent.
We’ve often heard it said, “It’s just business, it’s not personal.” If that’s true then please show me a product or service in the marketplace that does not involve another human being. Dog food may be for dogs, but it is people who purchase it, not dogs. Or explain to me how either the employment or job loss of another human being does not impact that person in a personal way, for better or worse. No, business is in fact quite personal, and relationships do matter.
When someone places the well-being of another human being above his or her own, that is a form of laying one’s life down for a friend, which is what Susan demonstrated through her genuine interest in us. For her the relationship far out-weighed any prospects of earning commissions. Yet, it was for that very reason that she won our business.