Some jobs require greater coping mechanisms than others. In a career where rejection is unavoidable, learning to not become depleted when perceived failures occur is fundamental.
Humans have a natural negativity bias which allows us to more easily see the negative than the positive, and sometimes even see negativity where none exists. In a study, researchers showed participants pictures of positive, negative and neutral stimuli and found that electrical activity in the cerebral cortex was stronger toward the negative stimuli compared to positive and neutral stimuli. We are wired this way as a prehistoric survival mechanism. But as humans we are a little bit slower at evolving than the world around us.
The good news is that although we might be wired one way, research has made a relieving discovery that we can rewire our brain. There are direct neural connections between the prefrontal cortex (i.e., our logical brain) and the emotional brain, meaning that we can use the prefrontal cortex to manage the emotional brain; thus building resiliency.
As a sales professional, negative outcomes are something that will occur – and more frequently than we would like. For those who have to regularly face rejection it’s important to not only bounce back in times of disappointment but bounce forward. Due to our negativity bias we can be highly affected by negative events – in fact, even when we experience a lot of positive events, one negative event can dramatically upset our mood. Negative events are more likely to draw our attention and have a stronger and more long-lasting impact on us. This negativity bias means that we feel overwhelmed, we see threats where none exist, and we even carry this mood over into our personal and home lives.
Resiliency is key to sales success because sales professionals must be able to see opportunity in adversity. Upon rejection, they must be able to hang up the phone or leave a meeting with dignity and grace, and continue moving forward, acknowledging what they could have done differently but priding themselves on their efforts
“We all have bad days,” says David Collins, Vice President and General Manager of Sales “But sometimes we can even have bad weeks, months and quarters. There are always cycles in life and sometimes it can be hard to realize things are going to get better, but those who succeed over the long term use challenging situations to become better. They learn from their mistakes and rather than dwelling on the negative, they move forward and focus on the positive. Just like anyone else, people in sales are not defined by the good times. Great sales professionals maintain a realistically optimistic outlook even when the going gets tough.”
While this might take a great deal of resiliency, it is not impossible. Through practicing resiliency we most certainly can harness or logical brain and take control of our emotional brain.
Just as the great and powerful Wizard of Oz said “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”