In many persuasion, sales, and negotiating skills, books that I have read recently, the authors have all been at pains to point out that theirs is a gentle art and they decry the foot in the door, pushy, high pressure people of the bad old days. The trouble is that it worked. There are fabulous modern psychological techniques that are powerful, subtle instruments, but sometimes kicking the door in will get you what you want. Turning our backs on all the old ways is like throwing all the hammers out of the tool box – of course, careful work with an eyeglass, scalpel, and jeweler’s screwdriver is satisfying but sometimes you have just got to whack it with a hammer. The cognoscenti would describe the early pushy salespeople as coarse and uncouth, lacking in finesse and completely stupid. Dinosaurs or sharks. Point taken! I’m sure that in political discourse, Tyrannosaurus Rex would be at a loss. The tricky problem of quantum mechanics and string theory would baffle Jaws, but when it comes to rending flesh with sharp powerful teeth we would come a poor and partially digested second. The useful lesson we can learn is that these creatures are built for a purpose – the shark is the perfectly engineered swimming and killing machine. Sure it has a tiny brain that has two simple jobs to do and that is to control swimming and eating, and that’s what it does best all day every day. I don’t think they even sleep as their streamlined form glides swiftly forward towards their next meal which could well be you, and if it is you, you don’t stand a chance. In life you are going to meet competitors like that, competitors for your lover, for your job, or for your customers. You may start your day considering life in other galaxies, maybe the drudgery of the day might make you stare from the window and calculate your carbon footprint as the drive home slows to a crawl, or a delicious crayfish recipe may pop into your head. Be warned, as you take your eye off the ball, a silent grey form with half your intellect but fifty times as many teeth is gliding up behind you. Being a bit thick is actually no handicap in the persuasion game because one of the simplest and most effective ways of getting what you want is with persistence. If you make ice cream, with no subtlety or planning, you could walk up to people and say, “Buy an ice-cream.” It’s a fact of life that a percentage will buy so by going on and on doing that for ever you will make a living. Ice cream be blowed – don’t sell anything at all, just ask for the money!
In my home town we have sorry looking beggars who sit out in all weathers simply saying, “Spare any change, please?” My sympathy for them was a little tempered when a survey was published which suggested that they earned an average of thirty thousand pounds a year. Are you a research scientist who has started a genetic engineering laboratory? Is this your second year? Are you pleased to have broken even? Well my local tramp makes more than you do.
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