Sometimes I walk into a business establishment and in the space of a few sentences of conversation with the salesperson I know that I'm not going to buy anything from him or her. On the other hand, there are salespeople who can just about sell me anything...

What makes a good salesperson? In my experience, it is someone with the talent of being able to make me believe that I, the client, am the most important person in this transaction, and that the sale will take place only if it is in my best interests. Even in the case that I end up not making the purchase, the belief in my sound judgment is not shaken; rather, the salesperson interprets my "no" as meaning, "I'm not ready yet but try me again in the future." It is this complete belief in and focus on the client and his or her needs that makes a successful salesperson.

These sales techniques can be adapted by parents wishing to improve their parenting skills. Our job as parents is to sell our children to themselves. The first point of reference for a child's self-esteem — or lack thereof — comes from what the child believes the parents think of him or her. It is therefore important to convince the child that although s/he may not be perfect, s/he is still special and is continuously working towards acquiring more skills.

A child who doesn't do homework or has a messy room and is repeatedly told "you never do you homework" or "you are very messy" might start believing that about him or herself and is likely to start to live up to that expectation sooner or later. On the other hand, we could say to the same child: "You are a responsible person, and you are learning new skills each day on how to actually meet your responsibilities to do your homework and to keep your room clean." When they fail, we should encourage them by saying, "We'll try again tomorrow, so that you'll be able to acquire more skills on how to become the responsible person you are capable of being." Statements like this will encourage positive self- esteem and the desire to try harder next time.

We must bear in mind that our belief in the child has to be sincere and honest, as children have a special ability to tell if our interaction with them is honest or not.

This principle of believing in the person and not judging his future by his past behaviors is also a key to a good marriage and to an effective employer-employee relationship. People's performance is usually based upon the faith and the expectations that others have in and of them. I've seen children's marks in school go up or down drastically based on what they perceived to be the teacher's opinion of them. The more positive the opinion was, the better the child's performance.

Try it — it works!