Switch your focus to help you get what you want

Whether you have an important job interview or just want to be noticed in your current role – how can you make sure you stand out for all the right reasons? Suzy Greaves finds out and tells you how in seven short steps. Step three, why you need to focus on the other person's needs, not your own


Switch your focus to help you get what you want

When you walk through the door, how do you think you come across? The real truth, says Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of No One Understands You And What To Do About It (Harvard Business Review, £14.99), is that most of us don’t come across the way we intend.

‘We can’t see ourselves objectively. Human beings have a tendency to distort other people’s feedback to fit their own views – which can be a huge problem at work and in your personal life. People may not trust you, may not like you, or may not even notice you as a result of these errors in perception,’ she says.

Previously we have looked at making a first impression, and confident behaviour. Here's step three:

Focus on their needs, not yours

When you’ve adjusted your body language, take the attention off yourself and switch it on to the other person, says psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, author of Confidence: The Surprising Truth About How Much You Need And How To Get It (Profile Books, £9.99).

‘We may be worried about our own performance and anxieties, but the trick is to focus on what the other person wants. Ask lots of questions to establish what you can do to help the person you seek to influence to reach their goals. Understand the desires and challenges of your boss and create solutions. Your currency is how useful you can be.’

Halvorson adds: ‘To really get the attention of the most powerful person in the room, you’ll need to let them know how you can help facilitiate their continuing, increasing awesomeness.’

Photograph: Corbis