“What`s in it for me” in Interpersonal Communication


&quotWhat`sin it for me&quot in Interpersonal Communication

Inorganization, people interact at different levels and for differentreasons and motivations. At the core of these interactions is thefulfillment of their interests, goals and individual objective asthey seek to achieve organizational goals. However, the pursuit ofthe individual goals and interests leads to disagreements andconflicts. If unresolved, these conflicts may lead to thedisintegration of the organizational unity and relations with andwithout the organization. Resolving these conflicts involves the useof communication that is directed at the root causes of thedisagreements. This paper seeks to discuss a workplace situation byapplying the individual gain interest and &quotWhat`s in it for me&quotgoal of people. The paper will explore the interest that bestrepresents the &quotWhat`s in it for me&quot goal in interpersonalcommunication.

&quotWhat`sin it for me&quot Goal

Theapplication of &quotWhat`s in it for me&quot goal is theindividualistic concept that guides people to be concerned about whatbrings gains to them. The concept leads people to developindividualistic attitudes of examining every activity or venturebased on what they will gain and not what others will gain (Marston,2010). The individual goal leads people to get involved or committed inonly the activities that have gains to them and not the organization.According to Schermerhorn et al (2011), people with &quotWhat`s init for me&quot perspective often analyze the situations and policiesof the organization based on the personal gains they will be derivingfrom the organization. The &quotWhat`s in it for me&quot in theinterpersonal communication is the basis of disagreements betweenpeople in an organization.

The&quotWhat`s in it for me&quot is a root cause of the development ofdisagreements and conflicts in organizations especially in theinterpersonal communication. The development of conflicts from theconcept arises because of the lack of convergence between the viewsof one person with those of others (Marston,2010).The lack of convergence is primarily caused by the need to gain fromevery situation at all cost. Therefore, a person seeks to gain at theexpense of the other or other members of the organization. As aresult of the individual interests, interpersonal communication ishampered and coherence of ideas between people in the organization isinhibited by the personal goals.

Anappropriate workplace conflict situation arising from &quotWhat`s init for me&quot is disagreements between employees competing forcompany positions and gains from new positions. These conflicts arisewhen an organization has new positions from new business ventures orbranches. In such a scenario, the management is required to useexperienced employees to handle the new venture by shifting theirtasks or responsibilities (Campbell&amp Moorhead, 2011).Therefore, the management and the employees may conflict in theircommunication as they discuss to allocate duties and positions of thenew venture. Employees at this stage want to take tasks that bringthem personal gains and material possessions from every eventuality.

Therefore,the newly created positions will attract many interests of theemployees since each will be eyeing the gains that are being pursuedby the many others. In such a situation, employees may engage inindividualistic activities that are inspired by the &quotWhat`s init for me&quot goal (Wilmot &amp Hocker, 2013). For instance, anemployee may only agree to shift the location of workplace to anotherstate or city only if he or she is promoted to a higher position. Inthis case, the new higher position will be the main motivation forshifting location, since it will be the &quotWhat`s in it for me&quotitem. Therefore, they will do anything that they will be requested todo so as to achieve their individualistic goals.

Conceptsand Theoretical applications

Conflictof interest is the first consequence of the employees’ pursuit oftheir &quotWhat`s in it for me&quot goals. This leads to thedisagreements in their interpersonal communication and operationalinteractions. The conflict arises because of many factors that comeinto play as each seeks the new positions created by the companyexpansion. According to Campbelland Moorhead (2011), top amongthese factors is competition for the limited privileges that willcome with the new positions and expansion. The competition is sparkedby the extreme individual goals of the employees eyeing the samething that the organization has to offer. The other factor isindividual efforts to block others from achieving the same goal. Thisis because every employee sees the other as a threat towardsachieving the &quotWhat`s in it for me&quot goal.

Atthe same time, the &quotWhat`s in it for me&quot goals andinterests greatly influence the communication process in theorganization. According to Marston(2010),employees will be motivated to work, communicate and do anyresponsibility that leads to the achievement of their individualgoals. Once achieved, the employee may revert back to the normaloperations of the organization by doing what is necessary or requiredto keep the job (Schermerhorn et al, 2011). In most cases, they willkeep their communication on a need to know basis, just to lead toorganizational action.

Theposition taken

Fairdistribution of resources and positions is the main policy that canprevent conflicts from arising in interpersonal communication. Whenpeople understand the organizational policies of sharing resources,they will have knowledge of the predetermined formula of gainingtheir personal goals (Marston,2010).In the cases of &quotWhat`s in it for me&quot interests,organizations should identify the expected gains by the employees andplan on how to distribute these gains. In addition, organizationsshould maintain communication channels that will allow employees toshare their ambitions and synchronize their expectations.

Inaddition, synchronization of organizational goals with those of allthe employees will streamline the communication between employees.Their interests and communication will be directed towards theorganizational goals and not on what they are seeking to gain (Wilmot&amp Hocker, 2013). According to Campbelland Moorhead (2011), thisis because employees will learn to subordinate their individual goalsto that of the organization. This subordination happens whenemployees take their personal ambitions with less priority to thegoals of the organization. In addition, they perceive the achievementof the organizational objectives as the key that will unlock theirpersonal interests.


Thepursuance of individual goals and interests is one of the mainsources of conflicts in an organization. The pursuance of &quotWhat`sin it for me&quot interests is a major contributor to conflicts inan organization, especially in the interpersonal conflicts. This isbecause the &quotWhat`s in it for me&quot interests lead tocompetition and rivalry among employees as they seek to achieve thelimited organizational resources of positions. Organizations shouldformulate concrete plans and policies of sharing organizationalresources and positions. In addition, the management should work tosynchronize organizational goals to those of the employees andpromote organizational objectives. These measures will streamlineinterpersonal communication in an organization, to be less of the&quotWhat`s in it for me&quot interests and more of organizationalinterests.


Campbell,G.R., &amp Moorhead, G. (2011).Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Orgnanizations.Stamford: Cengage Learning

Marston,C. (2010). Motivatingthe &quotWhat`s In It For Me&quot Workforce: Manage Across theGenerational Divide and Increase Profits. Hoboken,NJ: John Wiley &amp Sons

Schermerhorn,J.R., N. Osborn, R.N, &amp Bien, M. (2011). OrganizationalBehavior.New York: John Wiley &amp Sons

Wilmot,W., &amp Hocker, J. (2013). InterpersonalConflict.New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education