Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's All About Listening

The Victorian Web

Through the Looking Glass

The Victorian Web

A-dressing the White Queen

Sir John Tenniel

Wood-engraving by Dalziel

Illustration for the fifth chapter of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass (1865)

(Alice): "Am I addressing the White Queen?"

(Queen): "Well, yes, if you call that a-dressing"..." It isn't my notion of the thing, at all."

[The verbal humour here results from the confusion of the pun "a-dressing" and "addressing".]
At Orcinus our beloved Sara Robinson has up a post you must go read now.

Go. Shoo.

She's right.

Take them at their word. They absolutely are who they say they are.

Sara was a fundy. I spent many years working with LGATs. Large Group Awareness Training.

LGATs have a justly deserved reputation for mixing pop psychology with new age nonsense, for taking people who aren't as strong as they might be and finding their weak points (while claiming publicly to only want strong healthy people), and especially for pressuring people to take their courses.

"The pressure, the pressure, oh God, they made me take the course" is the constant refrain.

I'll let you in a secret... it's absolutely true.

People are pressured into taking LGAT courses. In most of these organizations, volunteers are trained relentlessly (and really well) at finding people's weak points and converting them into sales. Yes, duh, it really is all about the money. Disguised of course, in enlightened jargon about becoming more effective, building confidence, and increasing self-esteem in an interconnected world in which one makes better choices through taking advantage of opportunities of which they were previously unaware. And so on, and so on, and so on.

That isn't to say some courses from some LGATs don't have positive effects, at least for a while. Others are a fast ride into danger. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

What all of them have in common however in my view, is a carefully hidden intent to get you hooked, deeply, on needing their jargon-filled language and their courses to stay on the high you get there and (so you are intended to think) only there. None of them teach you to think for yourself, give you library citations, or show you where they learned how to do what they do with you. You always have to run home to Daddy -- ca-ching! The cash register rings -- when you want a fix of that sweet, sweet feeling so good.

Eventually you learn you can get that special feeling by selling others. So you learn to sell the program.

You learn to listen carefully to precisely what people say. Whatever it is they say when they say "NO -- I don't want to sign up because..." is precisely the thing you then turn around and use to put them in the program.

It goes like this...

"NO -- I don't have enough money." "People get better jobs out of our programs all the time."

"NO -- I don't have enough time." "People become more organized, more able to get more done. Just by signing this paper you're committing yourself to become more organized."

"NO -- I don't trust you guys." "And I don't blame you. To sign this registration form you'd have to trust someone for the first time in a long time, wouldn't you? Signing up for this course requires you to trust. The course actually starts with your registration..."

Whatever someones says, you listen. Accept it as the truth about them. And then use that to be THE issue which they must work with in order to register into the program.

Never argue with their premise. Accept that premise, and let them know this program will fix it... and they're in. It's that simple.

Sara is saying the same thing. She says (in her brilliant article) the Fundies are telling us who they are with every word they say.

1. Listen.
2. Believe what they say; it is true for them, even if they don't know it. They reveal themselves to us every time they speak or write.
3. Act based on their premise. Close the sale (whatever the sale may be.)

Got it? Welcome to The Looking Glass.