Thursday, October 26, 2017

Talk Politics Like a Salesman

What do I think? Well,
what do you think?
A good salesman has no political opinions. Well, that's not true. They have opinions just like anyone else, but they are not going let those opinions get in the way of a sale, and that means that you are unlikely to learn anything about them in a sales context. In fact, should you start talking politics to a salesperson, you might even come to think that they agree with you politically.

In my years of selling, I have encountered a great many people whose politics I disagreed with. Some radical left, some radical right, many radically wrong on basic points of fact. My job, however, was to sell, not educate, so I said a lot of "hmmmm" and "interesting" and "wow."

An interesting thing happens when you are listening to people espouse their political views but you cannot argue or disagree: you actually find yourself listening. Not agreeing, but at least understanding.

You come to understand a few things. First, everyone wants what's best for our country. They have different opinions on how to get there, different views of the size of the pie to be shared, different concepts of economics and justice, but the goal is still to find what is best.

You also come to see that many opinions are the result of the source of your information. If a person gets all their information from a place that claims that the Republicans are all Russian spies or Democrats are all socialist revolutionaries, their opinions on issues will follow. You will also find that when you are able to compare sources of information, that you have a great deal of common ground with most people.
This advice is also excellent for avoiding duels.

So, I encourage you all to try this exercise: next time you find yourself in a conversation about politics with someone you disagree with, approach it like a salesman. Say as little as you can about your own beliefs. Ask specific questions about how they learned that and explore their beliefs. Try to find common ground.

You will be amazed just how much you can hear when you are trying not to talk.