In former days I bought into some serious follies. I’d catch a meme like a bad cold, and it would take hold, and run its course, then leave me when I finally developed mental immunity. One such mind-flu was est; that is, Erhard Sensitivity Training. Really it was assertiveness training, with some primal scream and some New Age claptrap.
It did boost my self-confidence, or at least it was an excuse for expressing self-confidence. So why not some more seminars? They called to ask me to sign up. I bought in, as far as my budget let me. Eventually they had me helping with phone banks.In the last phone bank I joined for est fundraising, I complained about the work rate, and the supervisor accused me of “shitting in the space”. I shall treasure that memory forever.
Then came one more phone call, from precisely one of those phone banks, asking me to join another seminar. I said that I didn’t want another seminar. She persisted, and I decided to get tough.
I said that est is an assertiveness training seminar. She agreed. Then I said that if I agreed to more seminars, even though I don’t want them, then the previous seminars would have failed. She agreed to that. I said that if on the other hand I refused more seminars, then the seminars work, and deserve my money. She agreed to that.
I said; if I agree to more seminars, then those seminars would already have failed, and I shouldn’t spend the money; but if I refuse more seminars, then the training is effective, and I should spend the money. She agreed to that.
I said; This is a paradox. The est training is effective, and deserves my money, to the exact extent that I deny that it is effective. Either I pay money for assertiveness that I do not get; and so you cheat me; or else I refuse to pay money, and get all of the assertiveness for nothing at all; and so I cheat you.
She agreed to that.
I concluded, Of the two I would rather not be the one cheated. No more seminars, please.
After some goodbyes, we hung up; and est has never called me since.
It was a very estian way out of est, and I’m glad that at least I got ‘shitting in the space’ out of the experience; and also the est paradox:
Assertiveness training works to the exact extent that the client denies that it works. It is worth the money only if you refuse to pay.