THE MIND OF THE SALESMAN (CONTINUED)
VI. Hope. The Salesman should cultivate the Optimistic Outlook upon Life. He should encourage the earnest expectation of the good things to come, and move forward to the realization thereof.
Much of life success depends upon the mental attitude of, and the confident expectation of, a successful outcome. Earnest Desire, Confident Expectation, and Resolute Action—this is the threefold key of attainment. Thought manifests itself in action, and we grow in accordance with the mental pattern or mould we create for ourselves. If you will look around you you will find that the men who have succeeded, and who are succeeding, are those who have maintained the hopeful mental attitude—who have always looked forward to the star of hope even in the moments of the greatest trouble and temporary reverses. If a man loses his hope permanently he is defeated. Hope is the incentive which is always drawing man onward and upward. Hope backed by Will and Determination is almost invincible. Learn to look on the bright side of things, to believe in your ultimate success. Learn to look upward and forward—heed the motto, “look aloft!” Cultivate the “rubber-ball spirit,” by which you will be able to bounce higher up the harder you are thrown down. There is a subtle psychological law by the operation of which we tend to materialize our ideals. The “confident expectation” backed by actions will win out in the end. Hitch your wagon to the Star of Hope.
VII. Enthusiasm. Very few people understand the true meaning of the word “enthusiasm,” although they may use it quite frequently in ordinary conversation. Enthusiasm means far more than energy, activity, interest and hope—it means the expression of the “soul” in mental and physical actions. The Greeks used the word as meaning “inspiration; moved by the gods,” from which arose the later meaning of “inspired by a superhuman or divine power.” The modern usage is defined as: “Enkindled and kindling fervor of the soul; ardent and imaginative zeal or interest; lively manifestation of joy or zeal;” etc. A person filled with enthusiasm seems to move and act from the very centre of his being—that part which we mean when we say “soul.” There is a wonderful power in rightly directed enthusiasm, which serves not only to arouse within one his full powers, but also tends to impress others in the direction of mental contagion. Mental states are contagious, and enthusiasm is one of the most active of mental states. Enthusiasm comes nearer to being “soul-power” than any other outward expression of mental states. It is allied to the soul-stirring impulse of music, poetry, and the drama. We can feel it in the words of a writer, speaker, orator, preacher, singer or poet. Enthusiasm may be analyzed as Inspired Interest. As Walter D. Moody says: “It will be found that all men possessed of personal magnetism are very much in earnest. Their intense earnestness is magnetic.” The best authorities agree that Enthusiasm is the active principle of what has been called Personal Magnetism.
An old writer has well said: “All of us emit a sphere, aura, or halo, impregnated with the very essence of ourselves, sensitives know it, so do our dogs and other pets; so does a hungry lion or tiger; aye, even flies, snakes and insects, as we know to our cost. Some of us are magnetic—others not. Some of us are warm, attractive, love-inspiring and friendship-making, while others are cold, intellectual, thoughtful, reasoning, but not magnetic. Let a learned man of the latter type address an audience and it will soon tire of his intellectual discourse, and will manifest symptoms of drowsiness. He talks at them, but not into them—he makes them think, not feel, which is most tiresome to the majority of persons, and few speakers succeed who attempt to merely make people think—they want to be made to feel. People will pay liberally to be made to feel or laugh, while they will begrudge a dime for instruction or talk that will make them think. Pitted against a learned man of the type mentioned above, let there be a half-educated, but very loving, ripe and mellow man, with but nine-tenths of the logic and erudition of the first man, yet such a man carries along his crowd with perfect ease, and everybody is wide-awake, treasuring up every good thing that falls from his lips. The reasons are palpable and plain. It is heart against head; soul against logic; and soul is bound to win every time.” And as Newman says: “Deductions have no power of persuasion. The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us.” Enthusiasm imparts that peculiar quality that we call “life,” which constitutes such an important part in the personality of a salesman. Remember we have analyzed enthusiasm as inspired earnestness—think over this analysis, and grasp its inner meaning. The very word “enthusiasm” is inspiring—visualize it and let it incite you to its expression when you feel “dead.” The very thought of it is a stimulant!
VIII. Determination. The Salesman needs the quality of dogged determination, persistence, and “stick-to-itiveness.” This bulldog quality must be developed. The “I Can and I Will” spirit must be cultivated. Determination is composed of several constituent faculties. First comes Combativeness or the quality of “tackling” obstacles. This is a marked quality in all strong characters. It manifests as courage, boldness, resistance, opposition, and disposition to combat opposition rather than to yield to it.
Allied to this faculty is another which bears the very inadequate name of Destructiveness, which expresses itself in the direction of breaking down barriers, pushing aside obstacles, making headway; pushing to the front; holding one’s own; etc. It is the quality of the man who makes his own paths and builds up his own trade. It is the “pioneer” faculty of the mind which clears away the ground, lays foundations and builds the first log-cabin.
Then comes Continuity, the faculty which is well-defined as “stick-to-itiveness,” which enables one to stick to his task until it is finished. This faculty gives stability and staying qualities, and enables a man to finish well. The lack of this quality often neutralizes the work of other good faculties, causing the person to “let go” too soon, and to thus lose the fruits of his labors.
Finally, comes the faculty of Firmness, which gives to one the quality of tenacity, perseverance, fixity, decision and stability, accompanied by a certain “stubborn tendency” which holds the other faculties together. A certain amount of this quality of “jackass courage” is needed in the mental make up of a Salesman. If a person is ‘set’ to a certain extent it enables him to maintain his position without the constant wear and tear upon his will that is met with by those lacking it. This faculty prevents one from being “sidetracked,” and enables him to “put his hand to the plow and look not backward.” It holds the chisel of the will up against the metal of circumstances until the work is accomplished. It enables one to be like the rock against which harmlessly beat the waves of opposition and competition. It enables one to see his object, and then to march straight to it.
IX. Secretiveness. We mention this quality, not because it is one which plays such an important part in the world of Salesmanship, but because the tendency of the average Salesman is to talk too freely regarding matters which should be kept to himself. This failing on the part of the Salesman is due to the free expression which his work necessitates. He should remember, however, that many a good plan has miscarried by reason of the tendency of the Salesman to “blab,” or to “give away” his hopes, plans and expectations. The Salesman should think thrice before speaking regarding any matter of office or personal policy, plans, methods, or other things which he would not like his competitors to know. It is a safe rule, laid down by a very successful business man, that one should “Never speak of anything that he is not desirous of his principal competitor hearing—for hear it he will if one speaks of it.” The world is full of the “little birds” who delight in carrying tales—the “walls have ears” with microphone, wireless telegraphic attachments. Be a diplomat in matters of the kind to which we have referred. A little thought should convince that if you yourself do not respect your own secrets, you can not expect others to do so.
X. Acquisitiveness. This faculty manifests as the desire for acquiring things; gaining; possessing; reaching out for; etc. It is often condemned by people, because of the unpleasant traits manifested by those in whom it is abnormally developed, as the miser, the “hog,” and the “stingy” person. But it is not well to hastily condemn this faculty, for without it we would become desireless, spendthrift, wasteful, without resources, and poor. The man who would succeed in any line of business must cultivate Acquisitiveness, if he is deficient in it. He must learn to want and earnestly desire the good things of life, and to reach out for them. He must desire to accumulate something for himself, for by so doing he will work so that he will make a valuable accumulating channel for his employers. Acquisitiveness is one of the animating principles of the business world, evade it though we may try to. It is hypocritical to deny this. The facts are too plain to be brushed aside or denied. As the writer has said in another work: “People are all after money—every blessed mother’s son and daughter of them—in one way or another.” What is the use of denying it. Some day we may have better economic conditions—I pray to God that we may—but until that time all of us must chase the nimble dollar to the best of our ability. For unless a man does this thing, then shall he not eat; nor be clothed; nor have shelter; nor books; nor music; nor anything else that makes life worth living for one who thinks and feels. It seems to me the proper balance is preserved in the following statement: “While you’re getting, get all you can—but give the other fellow a chance.”
XI. Approbativeness. This is the quality which manifests in a desire for praise, flatter, approval, fame, etc. The average Salesman does not need to develop this faculty—his temperament is very apt to make him have it too highly developed. It is all very well to feel a certain pleasure from the approval of others of work well done. But it is a decided weakness for one to be so sensitive to the opinions of others that they suffer from their disapproval, or from the lack of praise. He who is dependent upon the praise of the crowd, or the approval of the mob is a fool, deserving of pity. The crowd is fickle and tomorrow may turn on those whom they are praising to-day. Moreover there is always much secret envy and jealousy mixed with the praise of others.
Did you ever notice how eagerly people relate the slip-up or stumble of those whom they have been praising? Be not deceived by the plaudits of the crowd. Nor should you allow yourself to be deterred from a right course because of fear of blame. Learn to rely on what you, yourself, know to be right. “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” Learn to stand upon your own feet, and do not lean upon others. Shake the crowd off your heels—mind your own business and let others do likewise. And look the world squarely in the eye while you are talking to it, too. It will understand you, if you do not truckle to it. But never cringe to it—else it will rend you to pieces. “They say; what do they say; let them say!” “Do not worry about it—your friends will not care, and your enemies will criticise anyway; so what’s the use?” Say to yourself: “I am the Captain of my Soul.” And remember Burton’s glorious words of freedom and courage:
“Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from none but self expect applause;
He noblest lives and noblest dies who makes and keeps his self-made laws.
All other Life is living Death, a world where none but Phantoms dwell.
A breath, a wind, a sound, a voice, a tinkling of the Camel’s bell.”
The difference between Egoism and Egotism consists largely of the difference between Self-Respect and Approbativeness. Develop the first, and restrain the second—if you wish to become an Individual. And the successful Salesman is always an Individual—standing out from and above the crowd of the “mere persons” or “order-takers.” Be a Man, and not a human looking glass reflecting the ideas, opinions, and wishes of all those around you. Be creative, not imitative. Flattery is the food for apes, not for men.
Personal Expression. While one’s personal expression in the direction of clothing, walk, voice, etc., can scarcely be called mental qualities, yet they must be considered as expressions of mental qualities—outward manifestations of inward states. So true is this that people naturally judge one’s character by these outward expressions. And, moreover, there is a subtle reaction of one’s outward manifestations upon one’s mental states. One’s walk, carriage and demeanor influence one’s mental attitude, as we may prove by changing these outward manifestations and noting our changed feelings. As someone has said: “The consciousness of being well dressed imparts a certain serenity and peace which even religion sometimes fails to give us.”
And, as for physical attitudes, etc., hear what several eminent psychologists tell us. Prof. Halleck says: “By inducing an expression we can often cause its allied emotion.” Prof. James says: “Whistling to keep up courage is no mere figure of speech. On the other hand, sit all day in a moping posture, sigh, and reply to everything with a dismal voice, and your melancholy lingers. There is no more valuable precept in moral education than this: If we wish to conquer undesirable emotional tendencies in ourselves we must assiduously, and in the first instance cold-bloodedly, go through the outward movements, of those contrary dispositions which we wish to cultivate. Smooth the brow, brighten the eye, contract the dorsal rather than the ventral aspect of the frame, and speak in a major key, pass the genial compliment and your heart must indeed be frigid if it does not gradually thaw.”
Dr. Woods Hutchinson says: “To what extent muscular contractions condition emotions, as Prof. James has suggested, may be easily tested by a quaint and simple little experiment upon a group of the smallest voluntary muscles of the body, those that move the eyeball. Choose some time when you are sitting quietly in your room, free from all disturbing thoughts and influences. Then stand up, and assuming an easy position, cast the eyes upward, and hold them in that position for thirty seconds. Instantly and involuntarily you will be conscious of a tendency toward reverential, devotional, contemplative ideas and thoughts. Then turn the eyes sideways, glancing directly to the right or to the left, through half-closed lids. Within thirty seconds images of suspicion, of uneasiness, or of dislike will rise unbidden to the mind. Turn the eyes on one side and slightly downward, and suggestions of jealousy or coquetry will be apt to spring unbidden. Direct your gaze downward toward the floor, and you are likely to go off into a fit of reverie or abstraction.” Maudsley says: “The specific muscular action is not merely an exponent of passion, but truly an essential part of it. If we try while the features are fixed in the expression of one passion to call up in the mind a different one, we shall find it impossible to do so.”
In view of the above statements, we may readily see the importance of cultivating those outward expressions which are co-related to desirable mental states or feelings. By so doing we arouse in our minds those particular states or feelings. And, moreover, we tend to impress others with the possession on our part of the co-related mental qualities. One’s outward expression is a powerful instrument of suggestion to others, and people are unconsciously and instinctively affected by it, to our benefit or detriment. Let us therefore consider, briefly, the general principles underlying personal expression along the lines indicated.
Carriage and Walk. In the first part of the previous chapter, under the sub-head of “Self-Respect” we have given you the advice of a good authority concerning the proper carriage. The key is: Carry yourself in a manner showing your Self-Respect, Poise, and Consideration of Others. Another authority gives the following directions for the correct position in standing: “(1) Heels together; (2) head up, with chin slightly drawn in rather than protruding; (3) eyes front; (4) shoulders thrown back but not elevated; (5) chest expanded; (6) abdomen slightly drawn in, and not allowed to protrude; (7) arms dropped naturally to the sides, with the little fingers lightly touching the sides of the thigh. This may make you feel a little stiff and awkward at first, but, if you persevere, will soon establish itself as second nature with you.”
Another authority says: “The easiest way in which to acquire a correct carriage is to imagine that you are suspended from on high with a line, the lowest end of the line being fastened to the lower end of your breast-bone. If you will stand and walk as if you are so suspended, the result will be that you will acquire an easy, graceful, gliding walk, and a correct carriage and natural position.” Another authority gives the following advice: “The following method if observed in walking and standing, will impart a desirable physical poise and will keep you erect and in a graceful attitude while walking: Stand with your back toward the wall, with the heels, legs, hips, shoulders and back of head touching the wall, and with the chin slightly drawn in. Press up against the wall firmly. You will find yourself in an uncomfortable position, and one that is unnatural and incorrect. Then, keeping your heels to the wall, allow your body to swing forward into a natural position, being careful to keep the body firm in the same ‘form,’ avoiding relaxation, swinging yourself forward from the ankle joints alone. When you find that the correct poised, natural position has been attained, hold it, and march forward in what will be the natural, normal, well-balanced walking position. Practice this repeatedly, several times every day, until you have fully acquired the habit.”
Shaking Hands. When you grasp another’s hand in the act of “shaking hands,” do not do so in a listless, cold-blooded manner—do not extend to the other man a flabby, clammy, fish-like hand. But take hold of his hand as if you liked to do it—throw interest into the proceeding. More than this—throw feeling into it. Throw into the hand-clasp the feeling: “I like you, and you like me.” Then, when you draw your hand away, if possible let your fingers slide over the palm of his hand in a caressing manner, allowing his first finger to pass between your thumb and forefinger, close up in the crotch of the thumb. Practice this well, until you can perform it without thinking of it. You will find merit in the method. Grasp the other person’s hand “as if he were your best girl’s millionaire father-in-law.”
Voice. The Salesman should cultivate a voice with expression in it. His voice should convey his belief in what he is saying, and his interest in the story. You will find it an aid in this direction if you will learn to visualize your thoughts—that is, to make a mental picture of the thing you are saying. One can always describe better that which they see before them. In the degree that you can see your mental picture, so will be your degree of power in expressing it to another in words, and so will be the degree of feeling in your tone. The voice should express the meaning of your thought rather than being merely the symbol of it. Try to say “Good Morning” as if you meant it—then say it in the usual way. Do you see the difference? Throw your thought and feeling into your voice. Forget all about yourself and the other man and concentrate your thought and feeling into your voice.
Many people make the mistake of “speaking with their muscles instead of with their nerves.” They throw muscular energy into their words, when they should use nervous energy, or thought-force. The former has but little effect on the mind of the other, while the second vibrates subtly and reaches the feelings of those addressed. Feel, when you wish to speak impressively, and your tones will reflect the same, and induce a similar feeling in others. It is a point worth remembering that one may “bring down” the voice of an excited person to one’s own pitch, if the latter is firmly held at the customary pitch, in a firm manner. Not only does this “bring down” the other man’s voice, but his feelings will also follow suit, and besides, you also manage to keep your own temper and poise. Never raise your voice because another raises his—resist the tendency, and maintain your poise and power by so doing. This is worth remembering.
The Eyes. Learn to look people in the eyes when you are speaking to them. Not in a staring manner, but firmly, politely and easily. This may be acquired with a little practice. Practice on yourself in the mirror if you prefer. A shifting, restless gaze produces a bad impression, while a firm, honest gaze will incline people in your favor. You will find that strong men—men who influence others—almost always have a firm, strong gaze. It is worth practice, work and time, to acquire this personal trait.
Clothes. A man is very often known by his clothes, or at least judged by them. The Salesman should pay attention to this point of personal expression, since it will count much for or against him. The first point to remember is that cleanliness is the first requisite in clothing. Keep your clothes clean and well pressed. Particularly keep your linen clean, for nothing in the way of dress acts so much against a man as soiled linen. Another important point is to keep the extremities well clad—that is, the head, feet and hands. A soiled or worn hat; a soiled or frayed collar; an old, or unpolished pair of shoes; ragged sleeves or frayed cuffs—these things are more easily noticed and count more against a man than a shabby suit. Better an old suit well brushed, with a good hat, shoes and clean cuffs—than the reverse.
One should always wear as good clothes as his means will permit, and such as will be in keeping with his occupation and position. The rule is to get as good material as possible, and cut reasonably within the prevailing style—but avoiding all extremes, or fanciful designs. A well-dressed business man should give neither the appearance of shabbiness nor of being “dressed-up.” He should present the appearance of general neatness without attracting any special attention to his clothing. When a man’s clothes specially attract one, that man is not well dressed, but either poorly dressed or over-dressed. The “happy mean” between the two extremes is to be sought after. Polonius’ advice to his son is well worth memorizing: “Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man.”
Details of Appearance. Personal cleanliness and neatness are pre-requisites of the Salesman who wishes to produce a favorable impression. There is nothing that will so tend to prejudice the average business man against a new caller as the appearance of neglect of personal care. The body should be well-bathed; the hair trimmed and neatly brushed; the face cleanly shaven; the teeth well brushed; the nails clean; the shoes polished; the necktie and collar clean; the clothes brushed. Avoid the smell of liquor or tobacco on the breath, and eschew as fatal the odor of strong perfumery on the clothes or handkerchief. The yellow stains of the cigarette showing on the fingers, and the disgusting odor attaching to the cigarette habit, have lost many a man a favorable bearing. The cigarette is “taboo” to many men who smoke other forms of tobacco. These things are instinctively recognized by the buyer as manifestations of the mind of the salesman—a part of his personality—and very rightly so, for if the mind be kept above them they do not manifest. All these things go toward forming the impression which one person always makes upon another at the first meeting, and which have so much to do with securing a favorable notice during the Approach of the Salesman.