Why do we have it in for sales people? In my book, good sales people do a really useful job. They help me find out what I need. They arrange for me to get it. They make me feel good in the process.
So why do I, and others, sometimes get upset when thinking of sales people? Is it because we’re really thinking about pressure selling? About mis-selling? About used-car sales men? But I bought a great used car from real gentleman.
The answer of course is that we are “labelling”. I said the word salesman the other day and a colleague immediately quipped “untrustworthy”. Word association football.
We’re labelling someone as a type, probably before we’ve even really experienced what’s going on. What there is to experience in their behaviour. What’s really happening. Sure there are people who sell badly. But equally there are people who sell well. Why on earth would we clump them all together? That’s faulty thinking.
Labelling’s just one of many “faulty” thinking types, identified by people like Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck, the founders of cognitive therapy.
What brought this to mind? My holiday reading, a book by Sarah Edelman. I’ve read this kind of thing before. But this is really accessible and well written. I know it’s probably a bit sad to be reading stuff like this on holiday, but as Ellis said, “fighting irrationality and trying to be happy in a nutty world has great advantages in itself. It’s challenging. It’s interesting. It’s rewarding. It’s self helping… Your very determination to work at it can keep you reasonably happy.”
Can’t say fairer than that.