Getting to know as much as you can before agreeing to trust.
We often look at how to make our lives better. It may be in the area of weight loss, how to make more money, have better relationships or to believe in ourselves more.
When our worldview is not serving us particularly well, we have our moments of vulnerability. We want to believe in something and there are often others willing to tell us how to go about it.
In my teens, I joined a faith system that seemed to have all the answers. Among other things, this group worked hard to try to convert others to their beliefs. This is not something unique to religion, however.
I wasn't a very good salesperson. My colleagues were more motivated. A reason why later changed the group I hung out with was that I was more laid back than those who wanted to proselytize. A lesson I learned at this time has been invaluable — how to respond to those who are trying to convert me or sell to me.
The method is quite simple. It's not much different from the questions 3-year-olds ask when they are starting to explore the world — "Why?"
Asking the salesperson to break down his beliefs (whether they're about relationships, religion, business, monetary) making them get rid of their generic or technical language and tell me what it means to them. The “whys”, “whats” and “hows” of their beliefs.
The sales pitches we get in life often come from a couple directions. There are the emotional arguments and there's the reasoned, logical pitch. There are those wanting to sell us something, which is easier to see. Then others want us to think and believe as they do.
We all, in our way, want others to think as we do. It makes us comfortable in our surroundings. We spend more time with those who think like us. Even those who see themselves as more open-minded spend more time with those that are open-minded in a similar way. It makes life easier, less stressful and more enjoyable.
Over the last year, my girlfriend had been trying to explain an incident in her life and the impact it had on her. It was her “sales pitch” to get me to understand her better. She was upset because I didn't get it. One part of what I didn’t understand is how different parts of what she was telling me came together. It didn’t make sense to me. The language was too general, not specific enough. I finally asked her to break it down, get personal, explain the details. It wasn’t easy since it was a difficult place for her to go, but when she did I got a better understanding of what she had been trying to tell me.
Dig deeply with your ‘Why’ questions.
This can be difficult to do. We may not want to go as deeply as needed to gain understanding. Interestingly, the salesperson may often not want to go there either. At this point we have a few options. We can accept without fully understanding, taking on the danger of not knowing entirely what we are agreeing to. I did this in my teens.
Alternatively, we can walk away — which at times is the best choice. I've done this in numerous relationships. Patience is a third option — waiting for the salesperson to answer our annoying ‘Why’ questions so we can understand them, and perhaps even believe.
This article was originally published at http://www.empathia.com/asking-the-why/. Reprinted with permission from the author.