Not long ago, I found myself having roughly the same conversation with two female friends on two separate occasions. Both of these women were in situations where they wanted to end relationships with guys they were dating, but for some reason, they were having trouble doing so!
Now, first off, neither case involved abuse or anything like that. For each of these women, the fit just wasn’t there and they wanted to simply move on. In both cases, they would tell the guy in pretty straightforward terms that they wanted to end the relationship and all communication. Also, in both cases, the guy for some reason didn’t get the message, and in a day or two, the calls and messaging would resume. Questions would be asked, and conversations would result. Point, then counter-point, and so on.
As I was giving one of my friends (call her Brenda) a lift to pick up her car from the garage, her ex messaged her on her phone and she proceeded to respond. Just then it dawned on me what was happening here: she was sending him buying signals.
Those of us familiar with the sales process understand what this means. For those who don’t, a buying signal is when a prospect shows interest, either by asking questions (or answering them) or some other personal engagement. Buying signals can be weak, or they can be strong. But the mere presence of such a signal indicates some interest, at some level.
And with exes that have not let go, just as with eager (and sometimes desperate) sales people, even the slightest perceived interest gives the ex just what he or she wants: hope.
Back to the scene in the car: When Brenda began to message the guy back, I shouted: “STOP! No wonder he won’t leave you alone! You keep sending him buying signals by the mere fact that you continue to engage in a dialog with him! Stop it!”
Now, I do not wish to come off here as lacking all sensitivity towards the feelings of others. But in situations like these, some pain cannot be avoided–but it can be minimized by the truth and then leaving it at that. If one no longer wishes to communicate after the final statement has been made, then communicate further they should not! My friends were attempting to be polite and sensitive. This happens in sales all the time, and it isn’t the first time I have addressed the issue.
The same dynamic occurs with telemarketing. If you get a call from a telemarketer and you decline their offer, the best and most effective thing you can do for you and them is to conclude the conversation. You do this by saying, “I am not interested. You can remove me from your list. Thank you for calling.” Then you hang up even as they begin to proceed into their scripted response (and they will).
I do not believe in being rude, callous or dehumanizing to others in any way. I am in sales and I prefer to be given respect. However, if a prospect is not interested in what I offer, I do not want my time wasted by empty buying signals.
And it makes no difference whether we are talking about a date, or a deal.