Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted March 13, 2010

Published in Lifestyle

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What Toyota's Surge in Sales Tells Us About Ourselves and Our Relationships

Read More: incentives, loyalty, promises, relationships, Toyota, trust

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There was a story in the newspaper today about how Toyota's sales are currently better than they had anticipated because of a major ad blitz and tremendous incentives that are being offered to potential buyers.

Several customers were quoted in the story, stating that the deals were "tantalizing," and that they believed Toyota would now be selling them the "best cars available."

It is amazing to me that these people are willing to look the other way, in terms of their safety and their lives, simply because they are getting promises and a good deal.

This is profoundly shortsighted and foolish. What good is it if you don't have to pay any interest for three years, but you're gong to be dead in six months because the accelerator pedal still sticks?

To think, because the company is now promising that their cars are safe, that their cars actually will be safe, is absurd. There are many questions still unanswered as to whether or not they were aware that their cars were dangerous and sold them anyway.

Even if we presume that Toyota did not know their cars were dangerous when they told us we could rely on their product, why should we presume now that when they tell us there is nothing to worry about, that they aren't fooling themselves once again and, therefore, us as well?

This scenario is not confined to the sale of cars. We are confronted on a daily basis by a variety of companies, media pundits, religious leaders, and political leaders trying to sell us their product. We are constantly being seduced by their vows of sincerity and their promises of what they will do for us.

Our short memory is particularly obvious in the political arena where we continue to vote for people in both parties who have proven to be ethically-challenged and that their self-interests, not our interests, are their prime directive.

And, of course, in our personal relationships we see the same mechanism at work.

After being disloyal and repeatedly lying to us, our partner will tell us that now they can be believed, now they can be trusted, and now we can be assured that the events that occurred in the past will never happen again.

Desperate not to be unloaded because of prior bad behavior, they will engage in a media blitz, so to speak, making promises to us about how great their new product is, how reliable their new product is, and that we should feel good about staying with the program.

Equally true, our partner, after past transgressions, will shower us with a variety of expensive gifts as an incentive to stay in the relationship.

Should we be seduced by glorious promises that our partner has truly changed, that the accelerator pedal has really been fixed this time, and that the relationship will not drive into a ditch? Should we be seduced by expensive incentives designed to have us overlook the downsides?

Our decision to stay in a relationship, secondary to transgressions and abuses by our partner, should depend not upon promises, presents, incentives, sales pitches, etc., but rather should depend upon our objective analysis of the situation, our looking at the facts, our knowing what we know, and our unwillingness to do the same thing we've done in the past and expect different results.