His pace is perfect, the pressure optimally calibrated to match the flutter of her fingers, her breathing pattern, the flush of her skin.
The job is his; he’s already won the interview. He’s never been more certain of anything.
He could transition to a low-pressure Swedish, and the job would still be his, but that is not who he is.
“Okay, how about this, then? Let me massage you. Now, here, today. If it’s not one of the three best massages you’ve ever received,” the man says — careful to stress the ‘ever’ just so and to pause a beat before delivering the finale, “then I’ll get out of your hair.”
She smiles. The man takes that as a good sign.
“See, you’re already considering it. My interview is already half over, and you’re not even on the table yet.”
His tone skates up to the region marked ‘cocky’ but then demurely steps away, wanting no negative associations with the people from that land.
Her head tilts. She’s interested. How could she not be?
“Bodywork, we all know it is a matter of expectations. Massage is, first and foremost, a slow collision of two nervous systems, that of the client and the therapist. But, if you expect you will receive a good massage before you lie on the table, then you will, most likely, receive a good massage. I can tell by the way you’re looking at me, you recognize this is true. I could double down on my position here. Promise you the ‘best massage you’ve ever had, and I’m convinced you would be thrilled with the experience.”
She nods once. Any second, she will agree to the interview massage.
“Look, I don’t want to appear cocky. That is more about your needs, as a client, than it is mine. And I promise I deliver the same level of commitment to every client I treat. I’m here to offer you my services.”
“You are aware I’ve been the clinic manager here for 17 years?”
She has probably received a thousand massages. But none of that mattered. The man had already successfully conditioned her expectations.
“I was not aware of that. Do you receive regular massages?”
“I get at least two massages per month. Most months, I receive four.”
He had programmed her expectations with NLP. While he had never formally studied any of that, it was what he had done this morning.
“You sense my confidence and my passion for this craft. I’ve already conditioned you to expect an enjoyable experience. If now isn’t a good time, we can reschedule the massage.”
“But what will prevent you from repeating your Svengali type trick when you come in then?”
It’s a fair question.
“Okay, that’s a good question. If you’d prefer, pick any of your associates or even another therapist here, and I will perform the interview massage on them. You can sit in the room during, and I will not speak to them beforehand other than to perform the consultation, of course. Then you can see what I’m offering, with no verbal trickery,” he says.
She had wanted that massage.
She saw the passion in his words. She immediately concurred. If one is predisposed to finding an experience pleasurable or beneficial, then it was. Outcomes followed expectations nearly always.
“But you want a massage today.”
“I do. I can’t believe I’m doing this, but if you deliver on my massage and agree to a proper interview massage on Thursday, then I will start you at our maximum rate. But, I have warned you, you will not receive a pay-hike until corporate raises the maximum.”
That didn’t matter to him. The clients usually always delivered the rest of what he needed.
He slowly lowers her head to the table as he finishes gently tractioning her neck and massaging her scalp.
“Look, I usually bounce between therapists to prevent people from thinking I’m playing favorites, but if you still want the job, you can have it, but if you’re here, you’re my therapist. That was not one of the three best massages I’ve ever had. Your NLP trickery notwithstanding, that was the best massage of my life. You don’t have to massage anyone else. When can you start?” she says.
Originally published at http://storiesbyshawn.com on June 11, 2021.