One reason I drove my Honda for 235,000 miles: I didn’t want to endure the process of buying a car, even if it was The Kindest Choice.
In the past, I have felt manipulated and taken advantage of by salesmen. Car buying has always felt like a win/lose situation. I was once mocked by a salesman for wanting a green car when he only had red. It wasn’t about me, but it still hurt my feelings.
I’ve responded to car-haggling with belligerence. Then I manage to feel guilty no matter what – guilty for spending too much; guilty for being snarky; and guilty for spending too little and ruining the salesman’s day.
All in all, buying a car was a no-win situation that made me feel small….
This time, even though I worked with an alleged haggle-free program I thought a haggle or two might sneak into the exchange. If it did, I was determined to turn my no-win into our win-win.
At our Center, we work with a principle called the Third Force. The basic premise is two opposing forces exist in many interactions. Rather than dig into one side or another, we can hold the dynamic tension of the two forces and patiently wait for the reconciling force – the third – to create something entirely new. This new thing is beyond compromise. It is a win/win for both parties.
So I entered the car purchase situation with an awareness of the two forces: I knew that the salesman’s force would silently bellow “spend money,” and my force would plead “save money.”
I acknowledged these opposing truths and held space for a greater unknown. It was clear that spaciousness and the room for something new, would arise through the practice of mindful kindness.
Kindness disarmed my angst and defensiveness. Kindness was the Third Force.
I got to know Brad, my salesman, during the test drive. I learned about his family. I unguarded my heart as I moved from defensiveness into admiration. He wasn’t against me. He wasn’t trying to take something from me. He was just a guy yearning to be a good provider for his wife and kids. I sincerely wanted to support his noble intentions.
When Brad and his manager presented me with a list of costly ad-ons, I responded with a phrase that seemed to puzzle them. Perhaps it has never been uttered in a car dealership: “I will take these numbers home and meditate on them.” They couldn’t argue with that.
At home, I did the math, then presented them with a respectful email containing an excel spreadsheet that indicated my desires compared to theirs. I gently stated, “I would love to be able to purchase all the features you’re offering, but here’s what I feel is a responsible choice for me.” Again, no arguing, only an opening for agreement.
I think we all did well; I think we all left the exchange happy and satisfied.
What was the “something new” created by the Third Force? The best part for me was feeling like I transcended old patterns. I had been fair and kind. Everyone was respectful. And I wondered where else I can move from default defensiveness to kindness?
How about you? Have you had success in situations like this; or is there a place where you can apply these principles and see what win/win unfolds?