For the last several weeks, I’ve been discussing what I like to call the Three Questions.  These are the questions that each one of us is asking of one another.  Our families ask.  Our clients ask.  Those that we lead in business and those who lead us are asking.  And we’re asking the same questions right back.

So far, we’ve addressed the first two questions:

Question #1 – “Can I Trust You?” 

Question #2 – “Do You Understand Me?”

If you missed the earlier posts for these, you can catch up here:

The Three Questions – Part Three

The Three Questions – Part Two

The Three Questions – Part One

Now for the final piece to the puzzle, Question #3.


Question #3: “Can You Help Me?”

This is where the rubber meets the road.  All three questions are important, and they are all in some ways interrelated.  But it’s important to note that getting satisfactory answers to only two out of the three questions won’t always get you to where you want to be.  For example, if you are in sales, you can demonstrate trustworthiness and understanding (Questions #1 and #2), but listening skills and compassion and clarity will only take you so far.  If your potential client simply doesn’t need your product, than you’ve failed to address Question #3. 

So, how can we all prepare for a successful response to the question, “Can You Help Me?”  This is where The Seven C’s of Connecting come back into the picture.


The Seven C’s of Connecting #6: Competency

There’s just no substitute for being competent.  If you’re not a relative subject matter expert in what you are offering, the confidence that the other party feels in your ability to help them and serve their needs is simply reduced.  For example, I can be the kindest, most compassionate and understanding auto mechanic you will ever know.  I may listen to you describe the issues you are having with your car, show empathy and demonstrate understanding.  But the simple fact is that I know absolutely nothing about how to fix your car.  Because I don’t have that skill set, I’m not competent for what you need me for.

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So, how does one become competent?  It starts by being proactive.  You may recall in my last post I mentioned that Habit #6 in Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.”  But what is Habit #1 in this worldwide bestselling roadmap for success?  Be Proactive.

Be proactive.  You have to take initiative.  The only way to ultimately develop and demonstrate true competency is to deliberately decide to do what others won’t.  This may mean reading a personal development book instead of watching television.  It may mean attending a seminar in your chosen field instead of heading to the beach on a sunny Saturday.  It may mean taking an expert in your field to lunch and asking a ton of questions.  Do enough of those types of activities with some degree of repetition and you’re well on your way to knowing more about your chosen field than 90% of your competition.

That’s the coolest thing about success principles and developing competency.  The road map is out there.  Success leaves clues.  In fact, there aren’t really any new secrets to success.  Jim Rohn used to say, “Beware of someone trying to sell you new antiques.”  What a great way to phrase the obvious.  Why should we be wary of someone trying to pawn “new” antiques on us?  The obvious answer is because antiques by definition are old.

Success principles are the same.  So take the classes.  Read the books.  Practice connecting and communicating with others. Find experts in your field and shadow them as much as you can.  Ask them questions and listen carefully to their answers.  Soon you will be one of them.


The Seven C’s of Connecting #7: Contribution

The only real way to affirm the question of “Can You Help Me?” is to be able to contribute in a way that provides tangible benefit to the one asking.  That’s simply stated and may sound obvious, but it bears discussing.  We can have the best of intentions and even be more than competent, but if we’re not contributing in a very real way, we’re not helping.

Nobody cares about your product.  They care about their dreams, frustrations and dilemmas.  Address those concerns with your product and everyone wins.

I was sharing some thoughts recently with the leadership team of a very successful fitness club organization.  These men and women really know their clients – inside and out.  On the evening before I was to speak, I was walking the club floor with the local manager, Cesar.  I knew I was going share some thoughts the following day on this very topic of contribution, so I thought I’d have some fun and start to set the stage a bit with Cesar.

As we were taking a tour and Cesar was pointing out the club’s many wonderful amenities, I said, “You know, your clients don’t really care all that much about the features of your club.”

When I said this, I expected Cesar to be taken aback, perhaps even a bit offended at first.  After all, his club was his baby.  But he turned the tables and surprised me when he said, “I know.”

“What? What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean that they’re only concerned with the features if it applies to them,” he responded.

Boom.  Right then and there, I knew that Cesar had “gotten it.”  He already knew the key difference between a feature and a benefit.  A feature is something we have to offer.  A benefit, however, is something that it received.  Cesar understood that deep down, his clients didn’t really care about hours of operation, complimentary childcare or the wide array of yoga class offerings.  They did, however, care about the benefits of being able to work out anytime they wanted, drop their child off somewhere safe, and take a class that worked within the framework of their busy schedule.  Cesar knew that the contributions of his club only mattered to the extent that they resulted in benefits to the end users.

At Integress Solutions we like to say it this way: nobody cares about your product.  They care about their dreams, frustrations and dilemmas.  Address those concerns with your product and everyone wins.

“Pleasure comes from getting stuff.  Meaning comes from growth and contribution.” – Tony Robbins

See, when it comes to connecting we all want the other person to come away from a conversation with an affirmative, “Yes – I think this person can help me.”  The responsibility is clear and lies solely with us – to make sure that we communicate to the other person that what we are contributing provides added benefit to them.  I believe this to be true in the work environment, in the classroom, in the sales territory and in the home.

“Can I trust you?”

“Do you understand me?”

“Can you help me?”

What really happens when you master the art of answering these three questions?  Connection.  Identification. Synergy. Magic.  Families enjoy richer, more meaningful relationships built on trust and clear communication.  Leaders and their teams clearly understand responsibilities and are much more willing to go the extra mile for someone they identify with.  Salespeople develop a loyal following, a tribe that becomes their best source of marketing in ways that they may never accomplish otherwise.

So develop increased trust through the use of compassion, character, commitment and consistency.  Make sure that you invest the time to fully understand, and to use clarity whenever you can.  Show your ability to help and be a difference maker through competency and contribution.

Now, go set yourself apart.  Go connect.

Dale Marcouillier founded Integress Solutions in 2011 out of a desire to share basic success principles with others.  To find out how Dale can inspire and motivate your team or group with a practical and no-nonsense message, email him directly at