The Art of “Gentle” Persuasion

Admittedly, a lot has been on my mind lately, but for the past two days, I have been focused on the little things I can change (because some of the big things in my life aren’t going to change overnight). If you have read any of my previous posts, you know I have an impending layoff from my job and that is obviously on my mind even though I have been dealing with it quite well.

I was able to positively influence a very small incident in my life today. Someone wasn’t providing customer service and was being rude; instead of getting angry, I asked for compassion and understanding. Her tone immediately changed because she was taken aback by my request. And then, I actually did receive the customer service I needed. This made me think of persuasion, which reminded me of an event that occurred years ago; some people thought it was extraordinary. I have decided to share that story.

I had purchased a truck (I paid cash for it) and I loved this truck. I was young and had worked hard to buy it and I took really good care of it, except the one time I was driving in sandals and when my sandal broke, my foot hit the gas pedal. This caused my rear bumper hit a tree. But, my father did me a favor and helped me fix it; it looked almost as good as new.


Photo by Peter Pryharski on Unsplash

Anyway, back to the reason I was mentioning the truck… I had gotten married and just had a baby; my truck was no longer practical because my husband didn’t like sitting in the back of the truck getting sunburned and choked by dust in the Nevada desert (what a killjoy— I told him I could put the camper shell on). LOL I decided to buy a more practical vehicle, but since my truck was paid off, I didn’t want another car payment. I told my husband and he shook his head saying that I would have a car payment regardless.

There weren’t any car dealerships where we lived (in the middle of nowhere), so I drove to the nearest one, which was still hours away. I believe it was in Reno and for the sake of me not having to wrack my memory, let’s say that was correct. When I arrived at the car dealership, I looked around and found a car that was a year older than my truck. It was a station wagon (don’t balk; I was a new Mom and was under a lot of stress having to sell one of my babies— my truck!) It was in great condition and was loaded (leather seats, automatic everything). My truck was more of a bare bones model, but I loved it. My husband started laughing when I picked out the station wagon. I just looked at him and he put his hands up in the air as if to say, “Bring it!”

“Bring It!”
Photo by Alex Hockett on Unsplash

A salesperson (John) walked over and began talking to my husband. My husband pointed to me. John looked confused; salespeople always used to talk to the men and not the women. I explained to John that I wanted to trade it in for something better for the entire family. John began doing a lot of talking and I wanted to wrap this up, so I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote something down, folded it and handed it to him. He immediately stopped talking (thank goodness). He responded, “What’s this?” “That is what you are going to pay me,” I said. He looked baffled. I explained, “My truck is newer.” He was still confused and then finally stammered, “Are you here to buy a car?” “Technically, you are going to buy my truck and I am going to take this car off your hands,” I responded. His eyebrows raised and I believed I saw the beginning of a smirk on his face, so I quickly continued, “Let’s cut to the chase. I don’t know if you are the person who can make this deal with me or if you will need to get your manager. It is the end of the year and you need room on your lot. You have a station wagon here, which is not in demand and I am guessing it has been sitting her for over six months?”

The color drained from John’s already colorless face (this information wasn’t readily available to customers back then) and he said he would be right back. He returned with his manager. The manager immediately started his pitch (speaking to my husband). My husband took a step back and said, “No, she is the one you want to talk to and maybe you don’t want to start with a sales pitch, especially the same one we just heard.” The manager spent about two more minutes wasting time until I interrupted and said, “I need to feed the baby. You have 30 minutes to get the deal that I wrote on the paper typed up and cut me a check. If you aren’t interested, let me know right now so I can go find another dealership.” It did take more than 30 minutes, but after inspecting my truck, they did hustle to make the deal.

When the whole thing was over, we drove off the lot comfortably in our station wagon. My husband gave me a “high five” and said quietly, “Wow!” Since he lost the bet, he was on diaper duty for a month.

I was pretty full of ego back then and I have learned to be a lot more humble and drop some of the ego. I am also more gentle now (most of the time). After all, I am still blunt, but kind. I can still be persuasive, but aside from amazing business deals I have been able to pull off, this may have been my greatest “personal persuasive feats.” Despite my ego, ultimately, the dealership knew that I did them a favor by giving them a vehicle they could sell much more quickly and probably for more money than the value the car. I left with a check for $597.00. At the time, it was a good deal for both, which lends itself to the most positive of energy. After all, what we put out in the world (energy) comes back to us; doesn’t it?

As always, thank you for taking the time to read!

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