How to deal with authoritarians and pushy people

Picture of Frederick Dodson

Frederick Dodson

“If she says no, do it anyway”. 

How does this sound to you? To me it sounds like something a rapist would say. But it’s common advice in modern corporate training. I saw a manager tell his employees that if a person doesn’t want to receive their newsletter, they should sign the person up anyway. “Put everyone into the database!”. Someone in the audience asked “Even if they say no?” The manager answered: “Never take no for an answer. They always have the choice to opt out”. I thought: Didn’t he just deprive them of their choice to opt out? They already said “no” – that’s opting out. He told them to “never take a no” is the key to success in life.

Yesterday a guy was at my door selling solar fans and solar water heaters. I said “didn’t you read the ‘no soliciting sign’? No thanks”. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He said “You don’t want to save on half of your electricity bill? I can tell you how to for free”.  I pay more on my electricity bill than other people pay on their rent, so the word triggered me. He got his foot in the door. He talked about how a solar turbine on our roof could save us money and a very expensive solar water heater could slice our costs in half. After a lot of show and tell, I thanked him and said “ok, but I won’t buy one of those today. I’d like to do a little research first”. He said his special offer was only good for today. Do people still fall for the urgency shtick? I said “No, thank you”. It was my third no, but he wouldn’t quit. His “free consultation” turned into an aggressive sales pitch. “If you purchase today I’m allowed to throw in….” and he added a dozen items for free if we sign up right now.

If a salesperson doesn’t let you sleep over it, run for the hills. The first rule of dealing with authoritarians who are robotically trained “never take no for an answer” is to be firm and set borders. I did that by saying “no, I’d just like a day to think about it”. – “But the offer won’t be good tomorrow”. – “That’s too bad”. I thought I won, but he broke through my defense with a devious trick. He pretended to accept defeat and started gathering his papers, getting ready to leave. But before he left, like detective Columbo, he came back once more and said: “What if I give you all these products for free?” When authoritarians don’t get their way, they become manipulative. They feign defeat while preparing another attack. Then he pulled out something completely unrelated, but since my guard was down, I didn’t notice the sleight of hand. “I am permitted today to give you lifetime membership in this coupon club. You’ll get up to 50% discounts on all your shopping, groceries, cars, household items and clothes for life. I can also go down a couple hundred in the overall price“. None of this had anything to do with solar panels anymore, but when all was said and done, I finally consented to purchase one of his items. I chose the solar roof turbine because I believed in the idea: By adding cool air to the attic, 30% electricity costs are saved. The turbine is solar powered and costs no electricity. It’s a wholesome idea. I didn’t buy the more expensive solar water heater.

Only five minutes after he left the house I realized I had been hypnotized. Even though I said no more than three times, he managed to extract money from me. I went to check online and realized why he had been so insistent that I don’t sleep over it. The device was sold to me at 5 times more than it cost at Home Depot! It’s normally $500 and I got it for $2500. The coupon membership were nothing but junk-items I’d never buy: Pharmaceuticals, spam-meat, canola oil, snickers, dollar-shop items.

I had a 24-hour period to cancel and called to do so. The person on the phone was also trained to “never take no for an answer“. Instead of simply cancelling, he wanted an explanation. I questioned the sales tactics. “If we gave people time and space to make their own choices, we’d be out of Business!” he blasted at me. I told him the pushy methods have no future. “We’ve been successful with our method for 35 years!” he lectured. He was angry that I questioned the approach (I did so in a gentle tone). He was triggered. He insisted “we are even expanding now, our selling methods are the best!

Reprimanding customers who give Feedback is really a sign of a failing Business. If he’s so very successful, why is he upset? Authoritarians do achieve some success, but it’s at the cost of their integrity and energy. All this pushing and forcing (instead of attracting) becomes exhausting. The salesperson looked exhausted after selling to me and in the end his sale was reverted. He could have sold more easily if he didn’t go by sales script but simply took a genuine interest in our energy-savings. It could have been so simple, with much less energy wasted!

How to deal with authoritarians?

The way I dealt with him was not the best way to do it. The third “no” should have been firm and final. If you have to say “no” three times, the person has already crossed personal boundaries. I speak about this in my recent boundaries workshop .  At the third no, my BS-detector should have gone on and I should have shown him to the door promptly. The longer you let authoritarians do their thing, the more difficult it gets to get rid of them.

Authoritarians of all stripes are so common these days is because we haven’t set proper boundaries. “Never take no for an answer” has been taught to an entire generation in normies motivational training, in sales seminars, among lawyers, insurance salespeople, realtors and retailers. But if you take a good, conscious look at the statement, you realize it’s truly the mindset of a rapist. A rapist doesn’t take “no” for an answer, he overpowers the victim until he gets what he wants. It’s mind-boggling to me how many people teach that this is the key to success. It’s power vs. force. True power attracts but the weak and unattractive use force.

Almost every shop I go to nowadays has someone asking “What’s a good email address for you?” Notice that only an authoritarian would ask such a question.  If a person were more respectful, he’d ask “May I have your email address?” or “Would you like to receive updates by email?” But where I live everyone in shops asks “What’s a good email address for you?” because they’re trained in newspeak. I’m actually spooked by the fact that 90% of the shops ask the exactly same question with zero variation. I already hear some belligerent authoritarian bark at me “If we let people choose whether to receive our emails, they’ll say no and we’ll go out of Business!” Well, maybe you shouldn’t be in Business, you nutjob. The fact that I hear the same phrase across many lines of work points to a widespread uniformity of thought, which is a sign that we already live in a somewhat totalitarian society.

I receive a lot of unasked for “advice” from marketers on what I’m doing wrong. For example, with my upcoming Seminar I make “four deadly mistakes” as a marketer told me: 1. I don’t collect peoples names and address (their email address is enough) 2. I don’t upsell them to other seminars and products 3. I don’t put them on an email list and 4. If someone wants to cancel, I gave them a refund without asking questions. But rather than being “deadly” these are ways I would wish to be treated, so I treat others this way. I’m a believer in freedom of choice and assume others are capable of making their own decisions. Wow, what a novel concept! What a “deadly” approach. Why am I not persuading people who wish to cancel, not to cancel? Because I don’t want people sitting in my seminar who feel coerced or pushed to be there. I only want to spend time with people who enjoy being there. Many marketers only see the money, they never consider quality of life.

I didn’t used to be this vocal about the anti-libertarian mind, but times have changed. Authoritarianism is now so common that we need many more people willing to counteract their influence. Over the years I have removed every authoritarian figure, agency or influence from my life. All my friends and business associates are extremely fun and pleasant people. Living this way is possible, I’ve been doing it!

What can you do to make the world less authoritarian, pushy and imposing (while also making your life so much more pleasant)? You can detect it and call it out, support others who are calling it out, you can set boundaries in your own life and you can set an example of succeeding without being manipulative.



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