Lately I’ve been really dedicated to working out and recently I noticed something interesting at the gym. My gym is most definitely not a meat market. A very large percentage of the patrons are there because they care about their health and not for dating purposes or to see and be seen.
However, on occasion, I’ve noticed that as I ride the stationary bicycle, someone will hop on to the one next to me and I pick up my pace a little. It’s not a conscious decision, really, but my other than conscious wanting to show off a little. It could be a desire not to be outdone.
I have noticed the opposite as well. If I get onto a machine next to someone who is already working out, sometimes their speed increases. I chalk this up to a high desire for competition. Competition is a drive that we can either embrace or deny. Me? I embrace it. When I was in sales, I loved to constantly challenge myself to do double or triple what the people around me were selling.
You see competition in everyday life most intensely where there are extremely limited resources. (Just look to the animal kingdom as they compete for water, food, mates.) Humans, especially in the United States, compete on economic bases. We all know about the survival of the fittest. . . It’s seldom about trade and cooperation. On some level or another, we compete–money, mates, parking spots. When we’re not out there competing ourselves, we sit around and watch others compete (sports, reality TV, beauty contests. . .). There is something innately interesting to us about watching one person go up against another for glory or humiliation or fortune or defeat.
As for my gym observation, this showed me how competition can be an added incentive for self improvement. Some part of my mind says that by showing the person on the next machine what I’m made of by working out harder or faster, then I’m only doing myself good. In this respect, competition can be healthy. A drinking contest is obviously an entirely different story.
So how can this base instinct be used most effectively for selling our products or services? Well, we see it all the time. . . two gas stations across the street from each other with slightly different prices, the lower of the two deciding to take that much less for the product. I’m not suggesting you lower your prices by any means, but through framing, we can show ourselves, our products, our services, as the answer in the minds of our affluent prospects and clients. ‘I am by no means the cheapest, and in fact, I may be one of the more expensive realtors, but you really do get what you pay for.’
What is your relation to competition? Do you embrace it or shy away from it? And how can you begin to use it for persuasion purposes? How do you intend to use your competitive drive to get ahead in everything you do?