Today I was thinking about Reza. He is an Internet friend of mine from the country of Iran. Iran isn’t exactly a rich country (at least it’s people aren’t) and their country’s Bill of Rights reads like a piece of Saran Wrap. (nonexistent)
Reza wrote me an email last month. I was surprised that the country even had Internet access. (What the he** do I know, I’m a stupid American for heaven’s sake.) You should see how surprised I was when I found out they even have a stock market. It’s not the NYSE but it’s a market…!
Reza said many kind words in his email and it meant a lot to me. He also told me that to buy one of my books would take about one week’s salary. (avg. income per week in Iran is about $33.00)
(When Reza first wrote me, the tone of the email was SO kind and empathic, I thought Reza was a woman’s name…the kindness just came out of the computer screen…no Iranian GUY could be THAT nice…could he?)
He asked if I might have anything on ebook or an old dusty copy of anything I’ve written that I could send him. (For years I’ve sent books to inmates in prisons who have requested copies of books. You do have to draw the line somewhere, but I hadn’t drawn one at Iran…)
I had just finished writing my new book that would be released in November. (Science of Influence: How to Get Anyone to Say “YES!” In 8 Minutes of Less)
I emailed Reza back saying that my new publisher would not be all that thrilled with the book being sent out prior to publication, but I emailed the entire book to Reza.
He was stunned that he would be the first human to see the new book. (He liked it!)
His appreciation was sincere. Heart felt.
He wrote me again this week thanking me once again.
I almost sent Reza a copy of Irresistible Attraction: Secrets of Personal Magnetism, then remembered that Iran is a fairly fundamentalist Islamic culture…a book about attraction between the sexes might not be accepted all that well, even as a gift! So, I figured it wouldn’t be all that appropriate!! (And Reza is well aware that I shy away from being politically correct!)
The combination of my Iranian friend writing me and Irresistible Attraction got me thinking (fired off a cluster of neurons and engrams in my brain) about the vast differences between cultures as far as religion, politics and communication.
Some Body Language Signals Differ
I remember from my original body language research that a “thumbs up” in Iran means, “fu** you.” That’s one of those things you just don’t forget! Never having been to Iran and unlikely to be invited by their government anytime soon, I simply assume that this hasn’t changed!
I remembered that to the French (people from France) the middle finger touching the face below the eye means roughly, “I don’t believe you.”
I started thinking how hard it is to be a Muslim in France on a day to day basis. (Similar to what it was like to be black in the USA back in the 1960’s.) Quite a bit of discrimination in this regard. The nonverbals are different, the languages are obviously different, the religious and cultural backgrounds don’t even mix in a fiction book.
I think to myself, “it’s no wonder everyone hates everyone else in the world.” Whoever you are and whatever country you live in…you (and me) see their (everyone who doesn’t look or believe like you) culture, religion, and PEOPLE as enemies. Automatic evolutionary response: “They aren’t like me/us…they are dangerous.” It’s acted out every day all over the world.
Then I started to think about my political views about Iran. Iran is a country, right? Not people that earn $33 per week that are in a political system that is so pathetic it makes Cuba seem like a good place to escape TO.
Iran IS a country of course, but Reza isn’t Iran. He doesn’t build nuclear power plants. He’s just a normal person like you and me.
Then I thought, “I wonder how my views about Iran have changed.” I’m politically conservative and never viewed “Iran” in a particularly positive light.
Today as I think of Reza, I think of 20,000,000 people over there just like him and darn it, that really messes with the politics. The evolutionary instant and instinctive prejudgment is held in check.
Today, Reza seems a lot more like me…and that means that he must be a pretty smart guy with a heart the size of Texas. And Iran…still scary…but only in some very specific ways…not the big general picture I had held.
And who knows, maybe Reza will start an ideavirus…”You know, those Americans…their leaders have always been mighty arrogant…but there are a FEW good guys over there. Why, just the other day I was talking with a guy named Kevin Hogan and…” and the debates could begin…and perhaps a few more viewpoints might moderate…just a bit.
And I think back to what Frederick Douglass, the black slave in the 1850’s who fought for his personal freedom and the freedom of all black people right here in America.
He said…”If I can persuade, I can move the universe.”
Kevin Hogan, Psy.D. is the author of 19 books. The Psychology of Persuasion is Kevin’s best known and classic book. It has sold well in excess of a million worldwide copies, having been published in almost three dozen languages. Today Kevin offers keynote and half day presentations to businesses ready for new information and a new approach to adding greater profit through the secret language of business. www.KevinHogan.com is the place you can get over 300 articles just like this one.
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