Are you a horse, a trainer, or an expert examiner?
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation at the California Forum by George Pransky of Pransky & Associates. One of his themes was how much your initial "sales" meeting with a potential client is affected by what you bring to that meeting in the form of attitude, openness, understanding, confidence, and especially expectation.
Henry Ford is quoted as saying "If you think you can, or you think you can't, either way you're right." I think George would probably join me in extending that to other expectations: if you expect people to say no, they probably will; if you expect someone to try and take advantage of you, he will; if you expect people to be trustworthy and good, they probably will be.
Are there exceptions? Of course. Some people whom you expect to be honest won't be. But do you really want to live your life protecting yourself from such exceptions —thus creating a whole new set of negative expectations?
It was clear from the audience questions that some people thought George was talking about something new-agey, like the Law of Attraction, cited in the book and video "The Secret."
But in conversation afterward, George and I talked about the science behind his advice. There is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states (among many other things) that the act of observing an experiment will change the results. And then I told George about Clever Hans, the horse who did mathematics. Read the story of this miraculous horse, and then tell me if your clients are Clever Hans, and you play the role of the panel of experts who observed this horse's amazing talents.