Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 13, 2010
A strange thing happened to my wife and I last Saturday.
Some Saturday mornings, we decide to go to what’s known as the Regional Market of Central New York. People from all over central New York sell all sorts of things there like fruits and vegetables, candies and cakes, candles and perfumes, fish, clothes, foods, etc. My wife goes almost every Saturday. I’m kind of a part time guy; I invariably have a good time (when it’s warm weather), but you have to go early if you want to be close to everything, otherwise you could have a long walk coming.
This Saturday was going along like any other. I was saying hello to babies, being my naturally friendly self, while my wife was looking at produce that she and a friend were going to share later. This particular week there happened to be a Christian group booth in the middle of one of the display areas, and as we got there I got distracted by some honey roasted cashews on a table to my right. I’m not sure what my wife was doing, as she was slightly behind me, but I heard the man ask her if she would take a flyer he wanted to give her. She politely said no, and his response was “are you ready to die?”
Because I knew she wasn’t in danger I didn’t turn around, but kind of out loud I said “I’m thinking that’s not the best sales pitch I’ve ever heard.” The women in front of me heard it and laughed, and one of them turned around and gave me a high five. I accepted it, but I was thinking “what the heck was that all about?”
In the next display area we came to, a man was smiling and holding out his flyers. This time I said no thanks and walked on, but my wife decided to take his flyer. On the front was what you see in the image: Muslims for Peace. Later on, while sitting in the car while my wife went into a new hair salon to ask some questions, I pulled the flyer out and read through it, and found it somewhat illuminating.
No, I’m not about to go out and become a Muslim. However, I have to say that the two messages my wife and I got literally within minutes of each other were drastically striking and contrary. If my only experience ever with both Christianity and Islam had been these two men, you know which way my support would have gone. The way information was presented was way different, and even though I understand the message the Christian man wanted to convey to my wife, in a public forum with lots of other people around and one chance to make a good impression, he uttered a statement that could have been taken as a threat, but was definitely taken as one of strange intolerance for someone else’s position, all from deciding she didn’t want a flyer.
Lately here I’ve been talking about influence and social media marketing, but in the past on my other blog I’ve talked about consequences and perception. Giving people a reason to dislike you more because you said something wrong rather than stating an opinion someone else may or may not like is almost never worth it if you really care about getting business, making friends, etc. I’ve talked a lot about how social media can be your friend, but sometimes it can also hurt your online and offline business if your timing is bad and your words not quite correct. Of course, as I’ve always said, if you’re ready to deal with the consequences you can say anything you want.
Of course, I have no religion or faith, so I’m not going to be changing to anything any time soon. Still, if I were at Hogwarts I’d probably have given 50 points to some house and taken 50 points away from another. I wonder who ended up scoring better on the day once my wife and I left last Saturday.