Persuade; Don’t Push

When I rented a car in Arizona last week, the lady at the desk was pretty persuasive.  She asked me how much insurance coverage I wanted, and when I declined any, she said, “Okay, no problem.  Of course, our $12 per day charge is far less than what you’ll pay for a deductible.”  Only $12?  I was tempted – but I resisted.

“We’ve got you down for a standard car – would you like to upgrade to a full-sized car for only $11.99 more per day?”  Again I declined, citing better gas mileage as a factor  “You know, there’s not really much difference between the mileage of a standard Nissan Cube and a full-sized Ford Taurus,”  she said, not looking up from her computer.  A Nissan Cube?  I knew my husband wouldn’t like that, and I was tempted to switch, but I held firm one more time.

Then she hit me with the prepay-to-refill question.  I’d heard the spiel before:  buy a full tank now and save about two dollars a gallon over what I’d pay if I returned it less than full without prepaying.  I always refuse this offer, promising to refill before returning, but this time she almost persuaded me when she said, “You probably know that because of safety issues, there aren’t any gas  stations within a mile of the airport.”  With great resolve I turned her down one more time, but as I walked away from the counter I was second-guessing myself.

This woman used no pressure, no scare tactics, no threats.  I was disarmed by her offhand manner, her attitude of  “It doesn’t matter to me either way, but you should know. . .”  What a great technique for dealing with teens!

Suppose your daughter has a big science test this week.  You could try nagging and threatening:  “You’d better be studying for that test!  If you get another low grade, I’m going to ground you until the end of the quarter!”  Or you could try a less pushy, more subtle approach:  “How are you going to celebrate when your science test is over?” or maybe “Guess I’d better start saving my dollars for your A in biology, huh?”

By using a less threatening approach, you may not get the immediate response you’d like – “Hey!  I’m off to study for my biology test!” – but you will have planted a seed and provided a way for her to saunter off and pretend she was planning on studying all along.   Mission accomplished; conflict avoided.

My rental car wasn’t a Nissan Cube; it was a Nissan Altima, which is what I drive at home.  I didn’t get into any accidents, and I was able to fill up the tank only ten miles from the airport.  It was a good thing I hadn’t let her change my mind.

But I did hear her voice in my head all weekend long. . .

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