This is an example of not judging people based on first impressions. A few years ago, I was doing a presentation to a group of residents at a local retirement community about the benefits of chair massage to help them sleep better and feel more solid on their feet. Suddenly, a man enters the meeting room, stands in the middle of the audience, and says: “This is all nonsense. Massage is a complete waste of time”.
Needless to say, I was taken aback. I had never had anyone so rude as to interrupt my presentation. My first reaction was to be annoyed, but then I noticed that other residents in the room were paying close attention to this man. I sensed he was someone whose opinion they valued. Had I gotten angry and asked the man to leave, I would have lost credibility with the rest of the audience.
So I decided to do something else.
I asked this man, Arthur, if he would be willing to be my volunteer in the massage chair. He grudgingly agreed, I think as much to prove how pointless chair massage would be. I asked him where he felt he held the most tension in his body. He said in his low back, and quickly added that he experienced constant numbness in his legs, all the way down to his feet. All eyes were on me as I showed him how to get on the chair and made the necessary adjustments.
I told Arthur that the kind of massage I did was not “medically-oriented”, but it could help him deal with his muscle tension. After the warm-up, I began to focus on his lower back region, and it was very tight. After some time I felt the muscles start to relax. This was just a mini session for the purposes of the presentation, but I could tell when Arthur sat up that he looked much more relaxed. When someone from the audience asked Arthur how he felt, he said it was “alright”.
Fortunately, Arthur’s interruption didn’t derail my presentation and the audience saw the potential value enough to agree to set up a weekly program.
It’s what happened afterward that amazed me.
That night, about 10 pm, the phone rang. It was Arthur. I had no idea how he got my number as I hadn’t given him my card. It worked out he had gotten my number from the residence manager I had set the presentation up with. He was very excited, and he blurted out that he had feeling in his feet! He couldn’t believe it. He told me that for the last ten years he had been plagued with constant numbness in his legs and feet that affected his balance. I was very pleased for him but told Arthur that all I had done is reduce the muscle tension in his low back and hips. He didn’t care he was thrilled with his experience.
To wrap this story up, after that call, Arthur hired me to provide him with chair massage three times per week. One on the day of the residence program and two on privately scheduled appointments. He absolutely loved his chair massages and singlehandedly he became responsible from bringing many other residents to the weekly program.
To this day, I have never had a better cheerleader to the benefits of chair massage than Arthur, but it certainly didn’t start out that way!