This sales tip typically focuses on
developing a skill, or recommending a
strategy or tactic to implement. With this
month's issue, we're taking a different,
though equally important, slant. Our topic
is Attitude. More specifically, how our
attitude affects - both positively and
negatively - our ability to perform our job
and to produce quality output, as well as the
satisfaction we get out of doing both well.
And what we can do to turn a negative,
potentially destructive attitude into a
positive - or at least neutral - one that
aids, rather than hinders us, in being able
to do so.
How do you react when things don't go your
way? Consider the following sample of common
experiences we endure at work:
- Suspects you cold call who don't return
your (repeated) calls
- Suspects you email who don't reply
- Prospects with whom you're deep in a
deal who suddenly drop off the planet
- Losing a competitive deal you thought
you had in the bag
- A colleague in another department who's
been falling short, affecting your ability to
do your job
- A boss whose decisions or requirements
you frequently disagree with
How do you feel when your phone calls and
e-mailed go unreturned? Aggravated?
Frustrated? Or when your boss requires you to
complete yet another piece of seemingly
useless paperwork? Annoyed? Imposed upon?
The list of daily and weekly aggravations
that cause us angst, frustration - even anger
- on which we waste untold amounts of psychic
energy, is endless. They weigh on our minds,
slowly eating away at us, sucking out
valuable creative energy and enthusiasm.
It's a lousy feeling. But how can we feel
any other way? After all, we're only human.
True. In most cases, we don't have much, if
any, control over what happens to us, and how
it initially makes us feel. But is it
possible to handle these eventualities in
such a way that they don't get the better of
us? Can we exercise any control over
deal with them?
Sure we can.
As human beings, we have one capacity that
other creatures on this planet don't - we
have the capacity to choose how to
what happens to us. And if we try really
hard, really put our minds to it - we can
respond in ways that are healthful and
constructive, rather than unhealthful and
destructive, and that empower us to achieve
our larger goals and objectives.
Let's take the apparently irresponsible
colleague cited above. We can scream and
yell all we want, taking a confrontational
approach with this individual. But where
will that get us? On the other hand, we can
choose to do something that's admittedly
counterintuitive - we can sit down with him
and try to understand what's causing him to
fall short, and try to resolve the issue
together. Easier said than done, yes. For
one thing, it would require you to check your
charged-up emotions at the door. But there's
logic behind this apparent incongruity.
Consider this: if you've been reading these
tips for a while, you know by now that in any
sales discussion, your chances of success go
up if you ask questions and listen ("seek
first to understand", as Steven Covey said in
his highly-acclaimed and best-selling book,
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People),
rather than making accusations or judgments
based on your perception of the situation (no
matter how obvious it may seem). So schedule
a meeting with your coworker. Then approach
the discussion as if it were a sales meeting.
Ask questions, and listen for answers. In
the course of doing so, you might learn that
the guy's department lost two key staff
members two months ago, and who have yet to
be replaced. As a result, he's being pulled
in three different directions at once,
working twelve hour days just to get his own
work done - and not getting compensated an
extra dime for it. The requests of anyone
outside his department - yours included -
have therefore taken a back seat to getting
his own work done, and getting out of there.
But as a result of your coming to him and
providing an outlet for him to blow off some
steam, you strike him as a pretty good,
reasonable guy - particularly in comparison
to other employees who just bark at him.
Guess whose projects he's now going to try to
find ways to get done ahead of the others.
Problem solved, angst alleviated.
This is the time of the year when many of us
reflect on the past year - our successes and
our failures. What we accomplished and what
we didn't. A time when we commit to
improvements in the coming year. If you're
one of those people - or even if you're not -
go someplace for a couple of hours where
you'll be free of disturbances (yes, New
Yorkers, such places do exist!). Arm
yourself with nothing more than a pen and
paper, and a clear mind. Draw a line down
the middle of the page. On the left side,
make a list of all the things that have been
bothering, annoying, frustrating, or
aggravating you. On the right side, come up
with a creative way or two to deal with each
issue constructively. When you get back to
the office the following Monday (or your home
- this works in our personal lives as well),
begin implementing what you wrote. You'll
soon find yourself feeling less stressed,
more relaxed, more in control, and -
eventually - more productive.