I used to get frustrated by how others’ behaved…
And, in fact, whenever I got frustrated, it led me to be less persuasive, to sell less.
Let me stoke the emotional fires a bit.
If you’re a liberal, just think of someone who loves Trump.
If you’re a Trump supporter, just think of anyone who would rather have Clinton today.
Most people who are ultra-attached to either side of this equation have experienced extreme frustration over this. Trump supporters, before the election, when it looked like Clinton would win. Clinton supporters, ever since, as their “worst nightmare” has become their reality.
You can try to hide from this by preaching to the choir.
For example, if you’re willing to be insular, you could be a Trump supporter selling to other Trump supporters.
If you’re a Clinton supporter, you could sell to other Clinton supporters.
(The funny thing is, for eight years I watched conservative news publications rile up the emotions of their base with the exact same stories liberal publications are using today. The details? Different. The deeper message? Identical.)
But it’s impossible to totally get away from selling to someone you don’t agree with. Especially if you hold a strong opinion on anything.
For example, there are pro-immigration Trump supporters. Folks who are happy with a measured, responsible stance on immigration. If you take that stance and you write for a mostly conservative audience, you’re going to run into people you disagree with, who will fight you on this point.
The examples could go on.
The beauty of humans is that we are infinitely complex. But that also causes a bunch of infighting, in many areas including but not limited to our massively divided political landscape.
The world is full of people you will disagree with…
Okay, let’s drop politics.
Think about your relationships.
The people you love the most are most often the ones you also fight with most.
After the 90-day high of a new relationship wears off, it’s usually our romantic partners with whom we will have the most fights and disagreements over the course of our lives.
Maybe second to that, our parents and children.
The more you care, the more you better be willing to bear — because those you love will be, at many times, really unbearable to you!
Heck, even good friends can clash on seemingly tiny things.
I remember one particularly charged night, at a party, where a friend and I got into a heated argument about who-knows-what. It got worse and worse, until finally it was ugly. And the point was inconsequential!
Here’s the thing — the harder you try to be right in these situations, the less persuasive you become!
The last thing that will sway either a liberal or a conservative to take the others’ points is a logical discussion of policy-based issues.
Politics — and everything else — aren’t about that.
They’re about identity and values. Which have a logical justification, but which are based in emotion.
If you try to make it about logic, you lose.
And if you get emotional in a bad way — trying to make them feel bad about their identity and values — you lose even bigger.
It all comes down to the word “should.”
The word should is poison.
If you believe someone should act in a certain way, believe in a certain way, be a certain way…
(And this applies to YOURSELF, too.)
They will more-often-than-not entrench themselves in the opposite position.
The more should you shovel onto them, the less likely they are to buy into whatever it is you think they should do/think/believe.
That gap starts as an annoying dissatisfaction.
And the more you focus on it, the more it grows, and the more agony and pain it creates.
By “shoulding” all over them, the gap between them and you grows wider and wider.
And again, this can be political, relational, related to health or finances, or really about anything under the sun.
To say someone should do something or be some way is taking a prescriptive stance.
Here’s the poison of the prescriptive stance…
If you’re trying to prescribe a certain belief or behavior on someone, you’re basing your happiness or satisfaction with the situation on them being someone or something that they’re not.
And because they’re not that, they will frustrate you.
They’ll drive you crazy, in fact!
You are choosing to see reality for how you want it to be, not for how it is.
That disconnection will lead to a constant incongruence between how things are, and how you expect them to be.
Your expectations will continually be upset.
And you’ll never be too far from your next disappointment.
Unfortunately, disappointment will beget disappointment. Because if you take a prescriptive stance, every time someone does something you think they should not, you’ll only become more entrenched and frustrated. You’ll push harder. They’ll push back.
And things will only grow worse.
The alternative is to be descriptive…
Most people think they are descriptive. Meaning, they think they see reality as it is.
The truth is that we are not. The only sense that we experience directly is smell. That is, particles of what we are smelling actually get into the brain and are experienced directly.
Our touch, sight, and hearing are all interpreted through our sense organs, and reconstruct reality inside our brain, based on our model of the world.
However, the more accurate your model of the world becomes, the more descriptive you can be.
To try to remove as many filters as possible around your expectations for what is “correct” — especially when it comes to how others think, feel, and behave — will help you create a more accurate, descriptive model of the world.
When you get really descriptive, you begin to expect people to be who they are.
And then, when they behave based on who they are, you find it’s not frustrating at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. People become really interesting. Intriguing, even.
When you’re always trying to describe things as they are, someone’s unexpected behavior isn’t a source of frustration. Rather, it’s an opportunity to understand them better, and build a better model of the world.
And yeah, I’ll get back around to selling and persuasion in a minute.
But first, a question to answer…
But doesn’t this lead to meaninglessness?
Yes, and no.
Here’s the thing.
I could have taken the opening to this article and turned it into a political rant. I certainly have beliefs about where I’d prefer to see the world and especially the current U.S. political landscape head toward.
I have my own beliefs about what would lead to the best outcomes for the broadest swath of people, as well as the country and the world as a whole.
And in the right context, I’m willing to share that.
I’m not forced into indecision, because I choose to be descriptive instead of prescriptive.
I’m not forced into meaninglessness and immorality just because I’m not sitting on my high horse telling the world how it should be.
Rather, I’m able to gain a perspective that is impossible by being stuck in a prescriptive mindset, and choose where it’s appropriate to use my perspective to create the change I want in the world.
And it’s easier to do all of that without frustration and fighting.
So… What the heck does this all have to do with selling?
“They should hire me because [fill in the reason here].”
“They should buy our product because [fill in your should].”
Novice salespeople have these thoughts all the time. And, in fact, should is such a powerful word that you might even see it working its way into the sales pitches of highly-effective marketers and salespeople all the time.
After all, if your prospect believes they should do something — I mean, really believes they should — the transaction becomes inevitable.
However, selling in any form or media involves a lot more rejection than actual closing.
There will almost always be a lot more people saying “no” even when they should say “yes.”
If you’re too caught in basing your happiness and satisfaction on whatever you’ve prescribed for your prospects, this will cause massive frustration.
That frustration will come through as you pick fights with your next prospect, and your next.
They’ll sense it, and reject you (they’ll be moving away from your negative energy, not your pitch or product or service).
It’s a downward spiral.
Compare that to the descriptive salesperson, who has an outcome they’d prefer.
I try to sell you something, because I believe it would be massively beneficial to you. You say no, at first. I don’t take it personally. Rather, I try to understand about why there’s a disconnect. I go deeper in the conversation.
This continues. We develop rapport. I see where your model of the world doesn’t line up with my pitch. We figure out if I need to adjust my message, you need to adjust your model, or we need to split ways as friends.
Sometimes, this leads to behavioral change. Sometimes, even belief or identity change.
But it’s more like the martial art Aikido than boxing. I move with you to change your direction, rather than going against you.
It’s subtle, but powerful.
I know this is heady, so let me boil it down for you, one last time…
If you start from how things should be, and try to change them from how they are, you will be met with failure and frustration.
If you start from how things are, and lead them to where you want them to go, you’ll find much more success.
If you want to understand the 17 principles behind what makes A-list copywriters so successful, you should check this out.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,