Esther’s One-Two Punch

What do toddlers and sales professionals have in common?  No, this isn’t the latest riddle from your in-flight magazine. The correct answer is that both employ profound psychological principles to project their wills.  Toddlers do so instinctively while sales pros do so after sophisticated training. But we all can use these timeless truths to practice partnership power that helps us achieve our goals.

Almost every triumph, success, or achievement that we enjoy depends upon at least one other person’s cooperation. We invariably require at least one other person, whether a friend, mentor, customer or investor to help us achieve our desires.  There are many unsuccessful ways to try to enlist others to our purpose.  Can ancient Jewish wisdom help us identify effective ways to encourage people to partner with us?

When a human being performs an action, there are two consequences, internal and external.  For instance, if I tell someone a lie the external result is that I’ve misled that person.  The internal consequence is that I am reduced in moral stature, seeing myself subconsciously as a little less worthy than I was before.  Not surprisingly, I find it a little easier to tell another lie because I view myself as less admirable.

It’s equally true on the positive side.  For instance, when I help another human being, I not only change his or her world, but I also change me.  I make myself a more charitable man and start seeing myself that way.  Not surprisingly, the next person who asks for my help will be more likely to get a helpful response.

Researchers asked some residents of an area to accept and display a tiny sign reading “BE A SAFE DRIVER”.  Two weeks later, the researchers asked both this group and another group of residents that never received the first request, to allow a large billboard saying “DRIVE CAREFULLY” on their front lawns.  As part of the request, they were shown a picture of a nice house almost completely obscured by a very large, poorly lettered sign bearing that message.  Only 17% of those who had not received the first request accepted the large billboard.  However, a stunning 76% of those who had accepted the small sign also agreed to place the large one.

Robert Cialdini, a scholar who has studied persuasion, explains that even a small action changes a person’s view of self; thereafter, the person tends to act in concert with that view.  Scripture taught this rule millennia ago.

Queen Esther used this principle to achieve her goal of securing the king’s help in preventing the genocide of the Persian Jews. She started by inviting the king and Haman to an intimate dinner.  (Esther 5:4)

The entire purpose of that first banquet was to enable Esther to invite the two men to another private dinner.  (Esther 5:8)  Only when they accepted her invitation and appeared at the second banquet, did Esther plead for her people. (Esther 7:3)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains why Esther didn’t make her vital request to save the Jews at the first banquet.  She knew she had to accustom the king to granting her requests so she began with a simple one.

…if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them…
(Esther 5:8)

Once the king complied with this humble request, he set himself up to be far more likely to comply with whatever she might next ask. His view of himself as a generous monarch and loving husband was reinforced, leading to a positive response when Esther asked:

…If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.
(Esther 7:3)

Though God is not overtly visible in the Book of Esther, His wisdom and teachings inform almost every verse as His servants reshape history; their own as well as that of the Jewish people.

Whether you are a parent or a plumber, a business professional or a ballerina, you too can gain a greater understanding of influence strategies from studying Bible, and this can help you achieve your objectives in your career and in your important relationships.

With Persia (Iran) once again menacing the world, we can rely on the Bible to help us make sense of world affairs and guide us to triumph over personal challenges. Gain greater insight with the help of my 2 audio CD set, Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam. Follow the trail from Genesis through the Scroll of Esther in this mind-blowing teaching as Scripture casts prophetic shadows to the present day, providing a beacon of light in these dark times.

Clash of Destiny Case

  •     What Muslims know about prayer that most people, even those who pray regularly, don’t.
  •     The dark side of laughter.
  •     Why recruits in Arab terrorist training camps say “Heil Hitler”.
  •     How to rise above our cultural and genetic legacy!


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