Think, Feel; Truth, Lie

“People do not think, they feel; they do not believe what is true; they regard as true that which they wish to believe.  A lie that affirms us will gain more credence than a truth that challenges us.”

          –     David Frum (b.1960), Canadian-American speechwriter (For 43), columnist and political commentator, as published in The Atlantic, November 4, 2018

File this one under, “Golly, he sounds more like his dad every day!”

People don’t think.

There.  I said it.  Out-flippin’-loud.  They just don’t.  Up in Heaven, Dad is crowing “THAT’s my boy!”

Thinking isn’t rewarded like it used to be / should be.  Maybe it’s not generational.  Maybe thinking has never got the credit it deserves, but I do know it’s easier than ever to find a sound bite and more difficult than ever to get to the objective truth.  I’ve researched five quotations a week for more than 16 years, and delivered a couple thousand public speeches of one kind or another — and I know first-hand that it takes about 14 seconds to find a sound-bite or published source that supports whatever we want to believe.  Whatever it might be.

So, where’s the lesson for us B2B types?

It’s more important than ever to understand how our clients feel and what they regard as true.  It’s also just as important to make them think.

Not in a confrontational way.  In an empathic way.  In a curious way.  In a transparent and vulnerable way.  I am an intentional and provocative communicator — ask anyone with whom I’ve worked.  My passion is to spur thinking — on both sides of the conversation.  And it only works if we’re willing to see whatever we’re discussing or debating from the other person’s perspective.  In selling, that person is the buyer.  Would we buy what we’re asking them to buy if we were them?

Covey taught us, “Seek first to understand.”

Businesses today aren’t set up to reward courage.  They’re set up to avoid blame.  Want examples?  Procurement processes are designed to mask the “why” for the sake of the “what.”  Relationships are critiqued and scrutinized so that no perception of someone “buying favor” could exist.  An innocent search for “furniture repair” provides 63 sponsored links for “furniture refinishing” before anything remotely resembling “my dining room chairs need re-glued” comes up.  That’s because someone paid to be at the top of the search.  Evidently, 63 someones.  (Yes, I validate that truth before publishing it!)

Here’s the problem with that.  A quick thumbing of our smartphone might give us an easy or quick answer, but it may not be an answer we can trust.  Trust isn’t built on spreadsheets and policies.  It’s not based on paid search.  Trust is built on a shared understanding of the problem — the real problem we’re mutually needing to solve.

Today, if we want people to think, we have to honor the way they feel.  If we want to find the truth, we have to be willing to be wrong.  We have to challenge and want to be challenged.  That will make a difference.







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