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Centerpointe Research

Don’t Prime The Pump

Farmhouse

Farmhouse (Photo credit: mindy_g)

It was almost before my time, but in order to get water to come out, people had to prime the pump.  When someone is going to have a confrontation with someone about something, he or she often ruminates about it ahead of time.  This leads to increased anxiety about the upcoming meeting and/or angry feelings anticipating a negative outcome or emotionally upsetting interaction.  We all have mentally rehearsed not only what we are going to say in such a situation, but also what the other person or persons will have to say.  On top of this, a person may replay such interactions over and over in  their heads and think of ways that it could have happened differently if they or the other person had said or did something different.  However, sometimes it can be fruitful if it leads to a change in behavior or reaction that makes such an interchange more fruitful in the future.  Other times, it can have just the opposite result and it can be disastrous!  Take for example the following humorous? story that has made the rounds and which I have heard and then repeated in the past to make this point.  There was a salesman in a rural area who had a flat tire, but he did not have a jack so that he could change it.  The man did not feel very comfortable asking a farmer for the use of a jack because he thought that as a rule people who lived in this area did not like traveling salesmen.  It was a long walk from this man’s car to the nearest farm house and most of it was up hill.  As he walked up the slope he felt tireder and tireder and he became more and more pessimistic about his chances of borrowing a jack.  He kept running the anticipated potentially frustrating conversation over and over in his head and he became more and more angry as each version became worse and worse.  Finally he got to the door of the farm house, he knocked and the farmer came to the door and opened it.  Before the farmer could say anything, the salesman said, “You can keep your g– d— jack!”

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