“There is no persuasiveness more effectual than the transparency of a single heart, of a sincere life.” – Joseph Barber Lightfoot, Born Apr. 13, 1828.
Let's define a term temporarily for the purpose of this piece. I'm talking about your average bullshitter. And by “bullshitter” I mean the kind of person that is just always talking shit.
Not necessarily maliciously. But they are just always inflating and embellishing and bragging and one upping all the time.
It's an attitude a lot of sales people get, and a lot of copywriters, too. Success can get the ego involved, and combine that with competitive coworkers and it's a recipe for becoming a bullshitter.
Here is why it's bad when that happens.
Bullshitters are opaque. What I mean is, you can't see through them or into them.
They are hard to put any kind of faith in, because you can't tell what is real about them. You don't know their inside. You don't know if what they say is real, because it may just be more bullshit.
So therefore, you can't trust them. What are they hiding? How do they REALLY feel? Are they just lying to take advantage of you?
That makes bullshitters have a hard time persuading people. I mean, they can lie and trick people OK. But they obviously can't get away with that for long.
There is just always something “off” about them. They may be lovely people. They are often hilarious. But they essentially black out the window into their souls with all that smoke from the bullshit.
And that makes you LESS GOOD at selling stuff. People just get a feeling that you're not on their side, because they can't read you.
What should you be instead?
People who can be sincere (or fake it) – people who let even strangers in with a confessional honesty?
Those people can sway masses and individuals with equal aplomb. Because people always feel like you are being honest. Because your feelings and intentions and intent are always apparent.
Sincerity seems transparent. It seems authentic. If you can really seem like you truly believe what you're saying – even if it's bullshit…
Then there is nothing more effectual.
You're feeling good having read that, right? I bet you feel like you're definitely sincere, and not a bullshitter. You're feeling all validated and proud.
This is the Cult, so can I pull the rug out from under you for a second?
Actually, sincere people can be bad at selling shit, too. It's not some magic ingredient that makes you instantly able to be convincing.
Because actual sincerity makes it hard to use all the best persuasive tricks. You can reveal too much. You can catch feelings and not sell as hard as you could and should.
But there is a middle path you can walk. You can ride the line between bullshit and sincerity and get people to feel like they SEE you truly, while reserving just enough ability to bullshit so you can persuade effectively and covertly.
The way you do it is to…
Hand copy old print ads from the 70s.
Haha, nah, I'm just fucking with you. What you need to do is be sincere and just admit to being a bullshitter. Be apologetic about it, sorta. Make a game of it, like a magician. You know magic isn't real – he's tricking you. But you buy it. You enjoy it. You TRUST him to be sincere in his desire to serve you that trick.
It makes people comfortable when you confess. It takes the edge off the bullshit and makes it fun for everyone.