WTF! If you don’t show it, they don’t know it.

Jen was standing in my arms crying.  She sobbed, “It was so beautiful.  I couldn’t imagine it just going to just anybody on Craigslist.”

My wife, Jen and I are expecting twins.  We’ve been amazed at the outpouring of support from others.  Friends have showered us with what was once part of their journey of having babies.  We’re so grateful that our friends and acquaintances are so generous in spirit (I apologize for Thank You notes that you haven’t seen yet).

We were offered a crib.  The crib was built from scratch by hand.  The father, Destin*, who built it for his child offered it to us.  Destin sent us pictures and a detailed description.   It was truly beautiful.  It was a very generous offer that was made to share this crib.  It was a such a blessing.  It held so much meaning to him, we were honored at the offer to let us use the crib.

Destin emailed us with details and pictures.  He said he would Craigslist it if we didn’t take it.  He needed to know our interest quickly.  Jen thought the crib was beautiful.  We didn’t know our nursery theme yet.   And Jen couldn’t imagine something so beautiful and meaningful being Craigslisted to some stranger.  So she thought we might able to give it to Jen’s sister (who’s also pregnant).

Jen sent Destin a matter of fact email.  She said how we appreciated the offer of the crib.  She went on to say that we’d come get it and that if we don’t use it, Jen’s sister would.   Let us know when we can pick it up.

No reply.

I followed-up after a few weeks.  Destin replied.  He wasn’t concerned with finding someone to take the crib.   His motivation offering the crib was to see friends derive deep enjoyment from using this crib.  It was a way of living vicariously, seeing his work live on.  With us passing it on to Jen’s sister, he couldn’t achieve his motivational goals.   It didn’t appear we valued the crib the way Destin wished.  He suggested that make other arrangements.

So … for the moment we are without a beautiful handcrafted crib built with love and Destin is without the emotional satisfaction of seeing his creation cherished.

Neither Jen nor Destin shared what their motivational intent was – The Why behind the what.  Neither one read into the unstated intent.  Neither one got what they were looking for.

If you have a specific motive or need, show it.  If you don’t, there’s a good chance your need won’t be met.   This happens with ongoing needs – status reports, following processes, putting the toilet seat up, making the bed.  And with new needs – new projects, new org structures, new marriages, new kids, new homes, etc.

This happens in business and at home.  With employees, spouses, children and friends.  The result is frustration, disappointment and unmet needs.  Usually, we grit our teeth.  We bear it.  It wears us down.  We resent that others are frustrating us.  We treat them differently.  The relationship strains.  Teams produces less than.  Jobs are quit.  Promotions lost.  Marriages broken.  Friendships dissolve.

Yesterday I wrote about a formula my friend Erik came up with for effective communication:  WTF.   Today is about the ‘W’ –  Why.  Tell your audience why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Tell them why is it important to you and to them.   When they understand your Why, it will help them meet your needs and theirs.

Why do you need to do this?  If you don’t show it, they won’t know it.

What desire or need of yours is going unmet?  Who do you need to share a Why with today?


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