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Massage Today
September, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 09

Cyrano, MT's and Losing the Fear of Rejection

By Cary Bayer

Recently, I caught David DiChiera's "Cyrano," a 2007 operatic version of my very favorite play from 1897, Cyrano de Bergerac, written by Edmond Rostand. If you're unfamiliar with this tragedy, set in Paris in 1640, it centers around the eponymous Cyrano, who's as much of a hero with the sword as he is a coward with expressing love.

He's great at swordplay and wordplay, but pathetic at romance and love because he's insecure about his grotesque nose, virtually the size of his sword.

This play can be instructive for you if you're a licensed massage therapist. (It's too bad a DVD version of the film with the incomparable Jose Ferrer isn't screened over popcorn in massage training schools.) With his sword, Cyrano can slay a hundred men on a battlefield in France. With your hands, you can slay a hundred knots of tension on the battlefield of clients' bodies. But with his mouth, he freezes up in the presence of his beloved Roxanne. And you do this in your own way, too.

After teaching my "Build a $100,000 a Year Massage Business in Just 1 Hour a Day," course and privately coaching more than 125 LMTs, it's become painfully obvious to me that far too many of you freeze up in the presence of opportunities to promote your work. You become as tongue-tied in the face of a prospective new client as the usually poetic Cyrano does in the face of his true love. Rather than risk rejection, Cyrano doesn't attempt wooing Roxanne. Rather than risk rejection, far too many LMTs don't attempt wooing new clients. Oh sure, you'll hand out your business card. But do you ever risk the rejection of asking a prospective client for his? No. Why not? He may lose yours, and then you can kiss goodbye the possibility of him gaining relief on your table.

I've seen far too many therapists fail to book a massage at a party when a stranger says they could really use one. The fear that they might reject the offer to book stops the LMT in their tracks. Instead of asking the prospective client if they would like to schedule a session, the therapist takes another floret of broccoli and dips it into the guacamole. The person is hungry for relief from pain in their neck but, fearful that they might say no, the therapist is hungry for crudités.

The would-be client is denied healing relief, like Roxanne was denied Cyrano's healing love. The therapist is denied income that might result from this party guest becoming a new client. That could have been some $3,500 per year had they become a weekly client. The LMT is kept financially poor, much like Cyrano who wouldn't market his plays — partly because he couldn't abide the mediocre tastes of the publishing establishment of his day, and largely because he couldn't endure any rejection of his work.

Rather than risk rejection, many therapists fail to ask the simple question, "Would you like to schedule a session?" I know of LMTs who are afraid to book their clients' next sessions for fear that they'll say something like, "Let me call you when I'm ready." I know of far too many massage therapists who fail to ask existing clients if they'd like to purchase a package of treatments, even though they could save money. The fear of rejection again raising its ugly...nose.

The reason for these fears is a gross misunderstanding of the process of sales. If you ask a prospect if they would like to come in for a treatment, and they say, "No," they hasn't rejected you. They have simply taken a pass on having relief from pain today. The key words there are "you" and "today." They rejected your offer — to relieve them of their pain — today. They may not reject that offer tomorrow, if the pain increases. Making the distinction that their rejection is of an offer, and not of you, keeps you emotionally protected. This protection encourages you to take more risks and ask more people if they'd like to have sessions. That's because you have nothing to lose.

In the play, Cyrano sadly dies never having told his Roxanne that he loves her, even though it was his soul that she loved. Cyrano had extemporaneously written exquisitely beautiful poetry for a handsome young soldier whose face Roxanne had fallen in love with. The man was all looks and no books; he looked gorgeous, but spoke poorly. Cyrano, knowing that his beautiful beloved would never fall for someone as ugly as himself, wrote the poems to win the heart of his beloved for the young man. The hero was so terrified at the thought of competing against this handsome stud that he didn't even attempt it. Years later, when Roxanne finally discovered that the poetry that eventually won her heart was Cyrano's and not the pretty boy's, she confessed her love for him as he lay dying. Stubborn, proud and fearful to the very end, however, he refused to admit his love. His insecurities were deeper than some of the knots in the necks that you're asked to untwist.

Cyrano was a tragic hero of fiction. But it's no fiction that massage therapists are missing out on opportunities for new clients and new massage packages. Don't let yourself be a tragic statistic of the massage business. Don't take your talented hands away from your massage table and put them on a computer keyboard in some nameless office so that you have a secure way to pay your bills. Roxanne always loved Cyrano, but he was too scared to find that out. People love what you do with your hands; don't be too scared to ask them if they'd like a session.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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