The Unexpectedness of Just Because
Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you not to go into the basement? You asked why, and she said, “Just because I said so.” I remember. To me, ‘just because’ didn’t seem like a valid enough justification to keep me from roaming my home freely. But then, when she wasn’t paying attention, I snuck down to the basement and found the jackpot! Birthday presents. Oh yeah!
In recent months, ‘just because’ has taken on some new meaning. Instead of a justification for hiding the birthday presents, it became one of the greatest tools in relationship building.
How do you feel when you receive a birthday present from a family member? How do you feel when you receive a birthday present from a colleague? A neighbor? How about the cashier at your local gas station? That one is a little different. Why? You may interact with the cashier the same number of times as your neighbor, but what makes a birthday present from the cashier different from the present from the neighbor or family member? The difference is the level of expectation.
Even if your cashier knew your birthday, you wouldn’t expect to receive a gift from him like you would expect to receive one from a family member. The unexpectedness of the gift from your cashier provides added value to the gift and makes it stand out.
In the book “Made to Stick” by Dan and Chip Heath, ‘unexpectedness’ is one of six principles of creating memorable experiences. Think about it, can you remember what your parents gave you on your 13th birthday? How about a time when someone gave you a gift unexpectedly? The unexpected gift probably pops into mind easily while the expected gift when you were 13, may be a little harder to track.
‘Just Because’ works in a similar way because there are no expectations attached to it on either end. It is when you do something nice for someone, just because. It doesn’t have to be giving someone a gift, it can be as simple as paying someone a compliment, or introducing them to someone they need to meet, just because.
The important thing to remember is that there cannot be a ROI attached. You are doing this nice thing just because. The second you attach an ROI to it, ‘just because’ changes into ‘just because I want something from you’. Quite frankly, that is just too long to say, and it takes the authenticity out of your action.
The greatest thing about doing things for people just because is that it naturally builds trust, and people do business with those they know, like, and trust. If you do it right, the ROI comes naturally without even pushing or worrying about it. On top of that, you walk away with that satisfying feeling after you have served someone.