I am a pansy. I really am. Like Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, I fall for those sales techniques all the time. Out of guilt, perhaps. Shame? A moralistic obligation? But I fall. And somehow I’ll walk out of somewhere with something I did not want to have.
One prime example was several years ago when I was a car dealership. Unlike my parents, I am not immune to pushiness. And after less than 30 minutes of bantering, somehow we got an alarm system on a brand new Toyota Corolla. An alarm system that later nobody knew how to use (except for me, because out of guilt, I learned all the intricate complexities but was in Pittsburgh by then).
And only recently did I walk into a gym thinking that I had a won a free membership in a drawing I had randomly entered. As I sat down with a membership consultant, I got a sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to get my free membership as I filled out a special safety release form. In the form, there was a checkbox for how I heard of the gym. I reluctantly checked the box “contest”.
At first, he was able to establish the common feelings quite quickly when we found out that both of us grew up in the East Bay and went to local rival high schools. At first, I felt guilty that I was saying no when he offered to give me a deal because we had this commonality. Then I remembered that hey, he wasn’t my friend. Then he went the routes of what my needs were—in my mind, yes I did want to be in a fun, energetic, nonjudgemental environment—it wasn’t true. I tried to find an escape route. But I couldn’t force myself to just walk out. I told him that he was being too pushy. And here’s my pansiness, I finally paid the trial fee just to get out, knowing that I could cancel.
A few days later, I did. I walked into the gym and asked for a cancellation. Didn’t even feel like trying out the gym, because I had felt so used. It was simple, no questions asked. They however told me to call the original gym where I signed up to inform them of my cancellation. I did and left a message on the membership’s consultant message. Immediately, the consultant called me back as I was pacing back and forth in the BART station and asked why I canceled. I simply said that I was dissatisfied with the sales and felt uncomfortable in the gym as a result.
Next time, I’ll tell myself just say no. Because really, I shouldn’t be a pansy.