How to Convert a Cynic

There are certain environments that launch me into cynicism.  Two that come to mind are jewelry stores and auto repair shops.  When I walk into either of those businesses, I can instantly see inside the souls of every employee in the building.

And beyond the comprehension of those around me, I can catch a sales person in a lie before he opens his mouth.  I've never been wrong . . . until recently.

A few months back, Rachel and I celebrated our one-year anniversary.  I had a certain piece of jewelry in mind, so I went to a well-known local jewelry store.  As always, my liar radar had warmed up on the way to the store and I was ready for any sales person, no matter how experienced, to try and con me because of my youth. 

I had my strategy in place - don't tell them your price range and remind them repeatedly that you are a poor, newlywed student. 

When I walked into the store, I was greeted by a well-dressed man who spoke to me like he already knew me.  I didn't fall for it.  I told him what I was looking for.  He said something sales-persony like, "I have just the thing." 

After a few seconds of looking, he asked the question I was prepared for.  "How much are you wanting to spend on this?"  Despite all preparation, my response destroyed my strategy.  I told him my exact price range.  He was good. 

After a few more mintues of looking, he said, "Let me show you some inventory we just bought from a company on the East coast in a close-out sale."  Another trick.  One I'd never heard before. 

He brought out the inventory and I found exactly what I was looking for.  "How much is this one?" I asked.  "Oh that, well, it would normally be $_____ (much more than I could afford), but it is marked way down because of the buyout." 

The piece, although worth much more, was just below my price range.  Yes, below.  At this point, I felt confused.  This was too good to be true.  I knew there was some sort of sales person sledge-hammer he was going to pull out and hit me over the head with.  But it never came. 

Was it possible that he was actually interested in my well-being?  Yes.  Will I go to this store again?  Every time I need jewelry. 

Webster defines the cynic as "one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest."  In other words, it is a deep mistrust for humans. 

You don't win someone over by telling them how great your cause is.  They can figure that out for themselves.  And trust me, that's the only way a cynic does anything.  The key is showing them that your motives are genuine.

Converting a cynic is not about changing beliefs.  It's about gaining trust.


Joshua Rogers said...

Good line: "Was it possible that he was actually interested in my well-being? Yes. Will I go to this store again? Every time I need jewelry."

Anita Bell said...

Wow, very insightful. Might be some of that "lawyer" coming out. :)

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