I ride my bike to work - I repeat this message over and over as many times as I can to anyone who will listen. The message is usually received in the context of the convesation and the communication keeps flowing accordingly as a healthy exchange of ideas. More often than none, I am peppered with questions mostly dealing with logistical issues pertaining to the commute itself; for example : You ride all the way from your house ? , are you all sweaty by the time you get to work?, do you ride on the street or on the sidewalk?, sometimes I get questions that reflect the subjects misunderstandings or they reflect their insecurities, such as: Are you crazy ? or the actual statement.... Man! You ARE crazy! However, it all boils down to the main purpose of the message : AWARENESS
I ride my bike for many reasons, all equally important and in no particular order: It makes me feel good, it allows me to see the communities from a different standpoint, it saves money, it is good for the environment, it is fun; and this, is the message I strive to transmit. Always with an open mind, and with the purpose of fostering understanding.
It is very clear to me that I don't own the truth, and will not debate the issue in a confrontational manner, because: a) it is not my purpose to convince anyone and b) I do this for only positive purposes... I don't mean to sound bland, and those who know me, are fully aware that I am not one to shy away from a good argument especially in matters that I feel very strongly about, and I respectfully submit that I am very passionate about cycling; as an alternative transportation, as a sport, as therapy, as recreation. However, I have learned with age and experience that useless argument is nothing but a waste time and effort and it does nothing to forward my message.
Habit number 5 in Steven Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people says: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. It is only through a clear understanding of those who are not receptive to our message, that we can begin to get our message understood, and here is where our sales training comes in handy. One of the most important steps in closing a sale, is the objection handling part, and our effectiveness here is directly proportionate to our the techniques and skills we have developed to achieve this purpose.
The first rule to handle an objection is to isolate it, so therein lies the answer: it is imperative to clearly understand the reasons why we are misunderstood, and without judgement or preconceived notions understand that sometimes we (cyclists) are not without fault. I hear things like: "I hate to get stuck behind a cyclist when I'm in a hury to get to work", or "you cyclists think the laws don't apply to you", all of these and many more are validated by the experiences of the subject, but as we isolate them and understand we can then move ahead to the next step and debunk them.
In the end, I am not trying to convince anyone, albeit, I believe without a shadow of a doubt that cycling to work is good for me and my community and if we can inspire others to follow suit, our cities will become better places to live. I've got it figured out, and my life is so much better with my bicycle in it, and I have a pretty full life and a beautiful family and it makes me very happy when I pass those commuters, or recreational cyclists, or hard core cyclists on the road, because together we can make this a better place.