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When a salesman "gets in your face"- and "pushes"- a product or sale on you, you get annoyed and turned off. Did the "pushing"- strategy work? Far from it, I would suspect, would be your answer. And needless to say, you are in very good company: Not only the rest of the consumerism world would ditto you, but so would truly experienced salespeople themselves!
Yes, that's right. A good salesperson knows that pushiness is exactly the way to lose a sale, not to make one. Further, it discredits the world of sales, as a whole.
Instead, a good salesperson knows that to work with thinking itself is the way to go. Identifying and compassionately appealing to thoughts in peoples' heads is the determining factor in selling people. Assuming, that is, that the product already interests them.
And how does a good salesperson get people interested in their product? Talk their head off. Tell them all about it! The background, how it works, how it was developed, whodunnit, you name it! Suddenly people become interested and next thing, they want to buy.
And it is much the same principle in activism. When we "get in peoples' faces"- we turn them off. Maybe that's why protests get negative publicity and why policemen, wrongfully of course, forcefully if not even violently crack down on activists.
Time for a change?
Okay, here's how.The way to go with activism is, like with sales, to identify and rebut ideas in peoples' heads. In so doing, you get people to think for themselves, come up with their own conclusions (rarely should we try to push our own point of view on others: It simply results in recoiling. The more we let people think for themselves, the more they will think, period. And that"-s just exactly what we want, and this should be our sole aim).
Such was the instruction of an activist I personally know, who used to train activists nationally and internationally in political strategy and self-presentation.
EXAMPLES OF THOUGHT MODELS IN PEOPLES"- HEADS:
a) "Torture was deemed to be necessary to get information from terrorists in order to protect our country. That's why McCain (and others) voted for it."- The truth, alas, is that according to attorney Ben Wizner of the ACLU, more than 99% of the terrorists at Guantanamo are actually innocent. And certainly a lack of habeas corpus, the ability to challenge the legal grounds for one's detention, is only an invitation for abuse and secrecy, the cornerstone of such abuse. Surely a mere newspaper photograph is not adequate burden of proof of someone being a terrorist ringleader?!!? Yet everybody believes their eyes and what the headlines tell them! This has to be questioned, far and wide!
b) "Just let them wiretap me: I have nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong."- How would you rebut that one? Something like "it's not about doing wrong, instead it's about privacy"- was ACLU Director Anthony Romero's written response in one email to membership.
Wordsmithing is another key strategy suggested by the activist trainer I have mentioned above. When I asked her how we wake up the slumbering giant, or how to reach those people who just don't "get it"- no matter what you say or write, she answered: "Our society is not oriented toward reading lengthy presentations. So it's not about facts and truths: It's about wordsmithing"- she said.
"The war on terror"- can be converted by our writings to be better known as "the war OF terror."- Please pass this around, backed up by solid facts to support our credibility!
"Change"- and "Hope"- are other examples of wordsmithing which reach the crowds.