It’s not just a line from the Alan Parsons Project — it’s the truth.
I know how you’re feeling and what your intentions are. What’s more, everyone else does too. Human beings are extremely empathic creatures.
I’m exaggerating a little — sometimes you can trick people into buying your facade. But much of the time, when you think you’ve got us all fooled, you’re only fooling yourself.
People See The Concern, Not Just The Technique
I think this is the single most neglected fact in marketing literature. The techniques in marketing books are usually about what you say and do: the content of your “elevator pitch,” the right questions to ask sales prospects, how you should smile and use “confident body language,” and so on.
The assumption behind these techniques is that, when we’re with another person, the only thing we see is what they’re saying and doing. But that’s simply not true. We don’t just see their words and movements — we see the concerns that motivate what they say and do.
Networking events, which I’ve been attending a lot recently, are a great example. I’ve had the experience many times of hearing someone give me an impressive-sounding speech about their business — but also being intensely aware of fear or sadness they’re feeling, and of any hidden agenda they have.
In other words, although I see their well-rehearsed words and actions, I also see the beliefs and emotions beneath those words and actions. If they’re thinking “I’ve got to make this guy do what I want, or I’m not good enough,” or “I just want to get this conversation over with and leave this crappy event,” I can hear that just as clearly as I would if they said it out loud.
Let’s Just Admit We’re Mind-Readers
Why don’t “marketing gurus,” and personal development writers in general, acknowledge how empathic humans are? Part of it, I think, is that many people are after a quick fix. It’s easier to copy someone else’s words and body language than it is to take a deep look at what you really want and what you’re afraid of. Thus, books and programs that teach us “the five sales tactics of successful people,” and so on, are an easier sell.
At a deeper level, I think it’s also unnerving to contemplate the possibility that others are aware of what we’re thinking and feeling. I think we all find it comforting, at times, to believe that others don’t know our true intentions, and that they’re seeing only what we want them to see.
What we don’t often realize, I think, is that it can also be liberating to admit how attuned we are to each others’ emotions and thoughts. If you know my true intentions and how I’m really feeling, there’s no need for me to try so hard to have you see me a certain way — because it’s not going to work anyway.
In other words, if there’s no point in trying to convince each other we’re charismatic, dominant, secure, or whatever else, we can all just relax and let go of the strategies we rely on to deceive each other, and maybe even start having little fun in our relating. I know this sounds wonderful to me — I felt some tension drain out of my shoulders as I wrote it.
So, I invite you to consider, if just for a moment, the possibility that people in your life can “read your mind,” and notice whether that offers you a new sense of freedom.
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