Have you ever been in a situation when you felt manipulated by a series of clever questions? Maybe when you were a prospective buyer. I have been there. I have also been in retail sales and never liked the kind of sales training that taught manipulative closes. Good word for it. It does feel like someone is closing in on you and I think it an uncomfortable place to be. At those times, I have often asked myself, "What's wrong with this picture? I really am interested in this product I am looking at but I am also pulling back. I feel like getting out of here."
It seems to me to come down to the question of the spirit of intent. We always have one and when it slips into being self-serving, as may be the case in a selling situation, it registers badly.
I had this happen at an upscale store not long ago. I was shopping in the cosmetics department, which is one of my favorite stops, (having spent many years in that industry, giving me some stories to share later about self-image.) It is fun to nose around and see what's new. I approached a counter and heard from behind me, "Can I help you?" (That tired question again. I didn't pick up one twit of genuine interest.) The saleswoman had a brush in her hand and was applying blusher on a woman's face. I noticed she had a notepad where she wrote what products she was using as she worked. It looked like a whopper of an order was in the making. "Do you have a question?" she persisted. (I have no idea how she would have juggled two customers at once but I think she had that in mind at that point.) I said that I was looking for a lipstick color to match something. I got the feeling that she did some quick math to compare the sales profit from each of us women and I came out the loser.
I said that I could wait for help, but by then she paid no more attention and I was left to look. Five minutes later another salesperson was then free and began to help me. In the end I found my color and then pulled out my list of 5 other items of that line that I knew I would buy. She headed for the register. There she met the first sales person whose prospect had just jumped down from her stool sporting her new look and had scurried away sans purchase. She tried to say quietly to the second salesperson, "She is my customer who was waiting for me." Not quite quiet enough. The second one would have deferred had I not said, "Please do go ahead—I appreciated your excellent help and I am really your customer."
I suppose there are times when we all have a reason to work things in our favor. But a spirit of intent that rings true makes it easier to speak honestly without a hidden agenda. Those kinds of agendas don't stay hidden for long anyway. Others read the real story and if it doesn't feel right it seeds mistrust. No one reads the truth better than kids, even when they are very young. It amazes me to see them do it. It is a good thing that we can monitor our spirit of intent and correct it as we go. It sure keeps relationships honest, starting with the one we have with ourselves.