“A certain slightly cruel disregard for the feelings of living people is simply part of the package. I think a writer, if he's any good, is not an entirely benign entity in the world.” – Michael Cunningham, Born today, Nov. 6, 1952.
This is another uncomfortable truth. For one, we need to hurt people – or at least remind them of their pain – in order to create a desire to pursue our suggested solution.
For two, it takes a certain kind of person to want to make a career out of persuasive writing in the first place. Our job is not to let people be – our job is to bother and upset.
Let's take it one at a time.
First – If there is no reason to step out of their current situation, there is no need or urge to step into the one you suggest is better for them.
So we remind them of unpleasantness. Pain. Humiliation. Shame. Embarrassment. Depression. Agony. Every negative emotion is on the table.
Some can't bear to do this to strangers. And those people are fundamentally unsuited to this work.
Yes, we are talking about manipulation. Yes, we are talking about making people uncomfortable.
And look, it really is okay. It's fine. It's even a noble and valuable thing to do.
IF your product or service is the REAL DEAL… If you can actually solve the problem you're agitating and relieve the pain you've brought to the forefront, what is at issue?
You're simply pushing them into finally solving a problem they might ignore, or try and fail to solve themselves, even using an inferior competing offer that won't do for them what ONLY YOU CAN.
Is that logical of them? No. Is it rational? No. It's a total fearful, emotional, knee jerk reaction designed by their reptile brain to protect them from predators.
But we aren't pursued by pumas and panthers anymore. So that paralyzing desire to just stay stuck and suffering doesn't protect. It hinders progress. It forever pushes peace out of reach.
Do you get it?
God damn it, you have a DUTY to twist the knife before they will beg for the bandage they need. They are ALREADY STABBED. They are already bleeding out, and as they lie dying in the bloody mud, they are insisting they don't need help.
So make it hurt. Make it hurt bad. And then make them a great offer that will make it all better forever.
Does this unnerve you? Does this make you feel dirty or despicable? That's okay – you should just go find another vocation. This one isn't for you.