Over eager – why we shy from enthusiasm:
I was recently on a plane heading to Sydney and as luck would have it I got three seats to myself. As luck would not have it, those three seats were at the back of the plane. Thank you not, Virgin Australia. 29F! The seat doesn’t even effin’ recline!
Anyway, whilst I wasn’t thankful for my seating allocation, I was thankful that I didn’t get plonked next to the over-enthusiastic woman in front of me, who kept, despite his obviously rebuffing body-language, trying to strike up a conversation with the man in his thirties who was the only other occupant in her row. Seated one seat apart usually guarantees the no-talking policy is enacted, but no, she leaned over and opened with a loud ‘Are you sick?’ The embarrassed guy said ‘No’. And she went on to tell him she was recovering from major surgery and everything else that had ever happened in her life.
I felt for the poor guy who obviously, in keeping with the creed of lone fliers everywhere, only wants to talk to someone under one of the following three conditions:
- They’re an attractive member of the gender you are attracted to
- They’re sitting next to a hot member of the gender you are attracted to
- They support the same team as you, whether that be sport, politics, or again, gender preference.
Of course there are variations on these conditions, but sixty plus year old lady informing attractive thirtyish male about her hysterectomy just doesn’t qualify.
Why couldn’t I be seated in the same row as hot guy?
Anyway, it got me thinking about the off-putting nature of other peoples enthusiasm. And I do think this is people specific, because my puppy is enthusiastic about almost everything, and I find her enthusiasm endearing. Returning home with her recently I was mobbed by a bunch of neighbourhood children wanting to play with her, and she was as overwhelmed as I was by their ‘enthusiasm’, but if that had been another puppy, she would have been right with it. Hence people, and not just adults.
We’re right to question the motivation of others.
I think it is sales people. It’s the too-good-to-be-true-ring-now-only-available-for-15minutes-wont-be-offered-again approach we have seen so much on TV. Or the schmooze we get from the cute backpackers peddling charities on street corners, real estate agents, shopping centre concession staff, door-to-door sellers, door knocking cults and religions. It’s bitchy girls, and boys, at school trying to trick you into some embarrassing scenario. Worse still, it’s those salespeople trying to pressure you into paying for something you don’t want, can’t afford, or doesn’t meet your needs. Sales people mean we don’t feel we can trust it.
I think we could all recollect a few gullible incidents when we were younger, that we’ve fallen for the eager earnest trying to get us a good deal. What selfless altruists these sales people are! He’s going inside to tell the boss that he doesn’t need to make a commission on this sale because he likes us so much! No, he’s going inside to see what the boss is having for lunch, and tell him he’s got a sucker on the hook! You have to question their motivation. No one is giving you something for nothing in a financial transaction.
I’m sure that a flat I shared briefly when I was 19 is still visited by the Church of the latter seventh witness because I accidently fell for their ‘can I have a glass of water on this hot day’ routine. See, I’m happy with people who have happily found their faith, I think people should do just that. Find it themselves. No need to door knock.
Same with exercise gear, vacuum cleaners, thermi-cooking things, charities, drugs, kabbalah, bands, baby gifts, tree lopping, tofu, anything really. If it’s so good, I’ll find out about it anyway. Because someone I trust, someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in the outcome, will casually mention it and I can consider it then. But then, I’m happy to be a late adopter (hello Beta!).
Is our mistrust misplaced?
Actually I think we are right to be suspicious. Format current affair programs are littered with stories of people being ripped off by seemingly eager con artists who are all adept at putting their hand on the camera lens. You hear about scams on the internet constantly so we are right to be suspicious. Money, fame and control motivate people in strange ways.
But, generally speaking, if you can establish the motivation, or rule out any malevolent intent, by checking they are not trying to sell you something, through asking a direct question like: Are you trying to sell me something? Followed quickly by a direct statement such as: Because I’m not interested in whatever it is. (Because there are people out there who are trying to sell us a lemon). We might actually uncover a gem.
There are genuinely some people out there, I’m thinking Scandinavians, some rural dwellers, and maybe Canadians, who are eager to meet people, converse and move on. They won’t hit you up for a beer, or a cigarette, but the maybe will take from you a story, or an anecdote. But they will leave more, or at least as much, in return. Perhaps in broken English, and with many, many, inflections.
The lady on the plane, well, she was just looking for an audience. She wanted to talk about herself, what she’s done, her surgery, her motorbike, and possibly her motivation was to feel validated by the interest of an attractive young man. Certainly energy sapping, and yes she was too pushy, and I do abhor peoples inability to pick up on social cues, but at least it gave the guy, and me, a story. And when she wasn’t looking he put his ear buds in.