In one of my earlier metamorphoses, I worked in sales. I like working with people; I do have that gift of gab and, if I believe in something, I can be persuasive. And with the benefit of hindsight, it probably wasn’t bad training for a psychotherapist.
I think my interview where I had to “sell” my about-to-be new boss’s calculator back to him aced the job for me. I remembering pointing to one of the buttons on the calculator and telling him that this particular feature would allow him free access to the subway. Truly, I was slinging the hyperbole hard and fast. And I was, to use sales parlance, offering a benefit. Who knew? I had a flair.
This was the 1970s and the era of the ERA, equal rights amendment for women. Women were beginning to enter the work force and break through barriers to previously-held male bastions of occupation.
I had one job interview – here, I did not land the job – where I was asked to take a written test that presented questions like, “If you have a fight with your wife, who wins?” and “How much do you pay for a suit of clothes?”
I remember being sent to sales training school for three weeks; it was a bit like I imagine the vibe to be at boot camp. Here, we were instructed in the product, and we watched football-coach Vince Lombardi training films for inspiration and tenacity-building. We engaged in mandatory team volleyball and had our mock sales pitches videotaped for detailed critique by the class.
It was during these practice sales presentations that we would learn what Donald Trump might call the “art of the deal” or today’s business schools would term the “art of execution” or “pulling the trigger.” We learned a variety of ways to close the deal, i.e., make the sale.
Have you ever heard of the Benjamin Franklin close? You offer a binary choice of positive options. It’s a win-win situation. For example, this is where you might say to your little darling who is having a tantrum about breakfast, “Minnie, you can have oatmeal or an egg sandwich. Which do you prefer?”
Then, there is another binary style. It’s called Hobson’s choice; you can have what’s offered or nothing at all. In other words, eat your eggs, or go hungry.
Both the Ben Franklin close and Hobson’s choice leave little room for negotiation. Both styles are cut and dried. They are definitive, so all or none, so yes or no. Both are very black and white. There is no space for compromise or additional input; there is no wiggle room. There is no opportunity for everyone at the table to be respected and received equally.
Carl Jung saw choice-making as a fundamental step in personal individuation. Your personal choices and preferences helped you to define yourself. Making a choice is a step of empowerment. I agree.
However, I also feel the times have changed, and there needs to be a place for more. I could argue that as we are deeply entrenched in the Information Age we may not have all the data to make an accurate assessment. But my thought is beyond the speed of technology or ability to make an actual choice.
I have become more and more convinced that the only way to view life these days is with an “and and” philosophy. The days of either/or no longer serve the greater good. Our personal viewfinders are called to expand. This expansion removes the element of separation. It takes into account the quantum physics reality that we are all energetically connected. In essence, we are all one.
An “and and” philosophy removes the judgment. For instance, it’s not you are jerk, or I am jerk; therefore, one of us is right, and the other is wrong. It can be you are a jerk, and I am a jerk. There is much less sting, and, most likely, far greater truth in the latter.
Either/or is a hierarchical and linear equation; one is up, the other is down. Someone is asked to leave the table or hide in the corner. There is no room at the inn for everyone’s thoughts. There is no stretch to be inclusive, co-operative or bridge-building.
The “and and” thinking underscores that each of us is responsible in every situation. It allows the unraveling of the victim mentality; it calls for a balance of power and an acceptance that there is an ownership of what we have co-created within each dynamic.
The “and and” approach helps with jealousy as well. Your friend wins the lottery, gets a major promotion, publishes a book, stars in a George Clooney film, builds a second dream home or something equally fabulous. With the “either/or” you, the green-eyed monster jumps to the forefront and you can feel jealous, resentful or full of feelings that it is not fair. Whereas, the “and and” you recognizes that your friend’s good fortune is your good fortune as well, because we are all one. This allows you to be genuinely happy.
The “and and” philosophy is sourced from our Higher Selves. It operates above the nagging, critical broadcast of the ego. It calls forth our Best Selves. It says release judgment; it says cultivate acceptance. It asks for unconditional love.
And, even better, the “and and” approach opens the door to mystery, the ultimate “and and” we have yet to imagine, much less consider. And isn’t that a swell idea?