When I first crafted a slogan for my consensus-building and communication services, I tried it out on a man I’ll call “Jack,” whom I met at church.  The slogan, which had been clicking with my corporate and professional clients, was, “Get what you want from others, while building bridges, not burning them.”

But Jack the church guy heard the slogan and immediately replied:  “’Get what you want.’  Eeew.  That sounds so…”  I believe the word he was looking for was something like “manipulative” or “greedy.” Others had similar reactions. 

The next time I went to church, I tried out a variation of the slogan on some other people, “Get what you need from others, while building bridges, not burning them,” a one-word change, from “want” to “need.”  These church people reacted in a totally different way. They smiled.  They perked up.  “Get what you need…while building bridges” was just what they wanted to do with others, and just how they wanted others to deal with them.  

So I adopted the “need” version of the slogan, but I’ve never been entirely happy with it. The church people were laboring under hardwired, but often incorrect, assumptions: there’s not enough to go around; the more I get in a transaction, the more the other person loses; taking more than I absolutely need means depriving the other person of something they need; fairness requires compromise.” So getting what one wants is “Eeewy.” This is the win-lose or “fixed pie” view of transactions; the bigger slice of pie one person takes, the smaller slices others get. When you divide the pie equally, neither gets all they want, but at least lukewarm compromise is fair.

Yet, one of the most basic concepts underlying my entire interest-driven consensus building system is that many pies can be enlarged. It is possible for both parties to get more than they absolutely need, more than one half of the original size pie. Fairness need not require compromise. In other words, true win-win results actually happen. The entire system, then, provides the tools for creating such win-win results. 

Hardwired, win-lose assumptions create my biggest marketing challenge. After a person learns the interest driven system, tries it out, they see pies enlarging as they converse. They realize the fixed pie, or win-lose, view is unduly limiting. My challenge is dispelling the win-lose assumption, in relatively few words, before a prospective client tries it, so that they will try it.

By settling for the “need” version of my slogan, I reinforced the very fixed-pie assumptions I wish to dispel. Yet, to many people, “Get what you want…” seemed selfishly manipulative. Thus, I’ve been using “need” as a lesser evil.

Recently, a discussion with a client yielded a third possibility, “seek.” Though we couldn’t explain it, we thought “seek” allowed for the possibility that one can obtain more than absolute necessities, yet without selfish manipulation.

Soooo, I’m considering changing my slogan to, “Get what you seek from others, while building bridges, not burning them.” Now I seek your opinions. How does this “seek” version of the slogan strike you? Does it suggest selfishness or manipulation (which I don’t want)? Does it suggest compromise (also unwanted)? Does it suggest fairness without lukewarm compromise?

If you all would give your opinions as comments to this post, that would be great. One comment inspires another, and we get discussions going, optimizing results. Some of you might suggest alternatives other than want, need or seek. I’d love to hear them.

But I do understand that, for some of you, writing something to appear online is—like the fear of public speaking—worse than the fear of snakes or the fear of death. It’s true, really, on a gut level (as opposed to a brain level) many people fear public speaking more than snakes or death.  If this is how you feel about posting online, I understand. Please email or phone me your opinion.

Thanks in advance. I’ll let you know how it turns out.