Your Moral Compass Is Pointing in the Suckwesternly Direction
My sister — bless her heart — is a salesperson. A good one. Better still, she’s a natural-born salesperson, the kind total strangers just walk up and tell their life stories to. And I have to admit, I’ve oft admired her way with people. Whereas I judge and alienate those around me, my sister relates and befriends nearly everyone she meets.
Even looking at this bizarre Myers-Briggs chart, I find it interesting to note that I’ve been labeled as a protector at heart. Ultimately, I hope this blog will be a reflection of that, which is my — dare I say it? — maternal instinct I don’t ever actually plan to practice on offspring of my own kicking in from my vacant uterus. So I guess I have to practice it on my loved ones instead, whether they like it or not. (And for the record, they usually don’t.)
But first, to the heart of the matter.
Wait — where was I?
So I was thinking about the times I’ve wished my personality was more like my sister’s while having a conversation about business with her and one of our best friends from childhood this past weekend. Someone in the industry I currently write for was informing me that I was actually a salesperson but didn’t know it — one of those weird types of comments like, “You must master your rage, or it will master you” — true story — and I was telling them that I somewhat understood what the guy who said that to me meant with respect to being a writer, but I could never see myself selling _____, and for very legitimate reasons which I’m not at liberty to list here, as they would identify _____, but just assume for the sake of argument that there is no reasonable or even partially justifiable counterargument to my argument about _____.
Both listened to my diatribe, which concluded with an “I couldn’t sleep at night knowing I lied to someone to sell something I am aware has either no value or significantly less value than my client was paying to receive.”
My sister immediately jumped in and tried to manage my perception — and yes, I did learn that term from her. She tried to convince me that I was looking at it all wrong. In other words, she tried to sell me. And not because there was actually any reasonable or justifiable argument one could present, like I said. And there really was nothing to be gained in this effort to persuade me, either… except maybe the sheer joy of mental domination, which I must admit I also find exhilarating.
It’s ridiculous! It’s preposterous! It’s ludicrous! By god, it’s impetuous! Indeed, it’s always “on” with my sister. This argument was pure reflex, her hand touching my hot stove and instantaneously leaping back. She is always in selling mode now. She has become a master of her craft.
I was awestruck — humbled, even. And horrified.
“Why?” you may not be wondering at all right now. But I’m going to tell you anyway. (Stop staring at Stewie’s football-esque head and come back to this already.)
People who’ve mastered the art of sales — the art of spinning, or “professional lying,” as I like to call it — are usually also listed among the most unscrupulous people I’ve ever met. Somewhere along the path of learning how to “manage perceptions” and “overcome objections,” salespeople — probably much like actors — can lose their grip on reality and start applying the role they play on the sales floor to their private lives.
Some of them can spin literally everything. I’ve seen it happen before my very eyes in my own office. And again, it’s humbling and horrifying. He who can in the span of a minute think of a way to convince another person she wants to buy a banana shake instead of a strawberry shake, for example, simply because he doesn’t have strawberries that day and doesn’t plan on telling her that (fairly harmless) is the same person who can convince himself that, say, embezzling is okay (pretty harmful).
I’m a very different person from my sister, and we certainly disagree with many of each other’s life decisions, as I’m sure many siblings find is the case for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with this.
So what am I wiggin’ about, then? Before I tell you, dear readers, let me first qualify my forthcoming statement by saying I don’t blame sales as a profession for the path some salespeople choose to travel. And I know I’m not describing all salespeople in this blog. But I do wonder, at what point do certain personality types become so good at sales that they actually obliterate any sort of moral/ethical center they may have had and sell themselves the managed perception they’ve weaved that lets them sleep at night thinking no matter what they’ve done, how they might be hurting themselves, and how they might be damaging the lives of others in the process, everything’s still cool?