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Be Bold: The Science of Rationalizations

The following is an excerpt from Jeff Shore’s “Be Bold and Win The Sale”. It was recently featured in the Hayzlett Book Club, and you can purchase the book from Amazon.com

book cover Jeff ShoreTake any freshman psychology class and you’ll surely learn a great deal about rationalizations. You will often find them categorized under the heading of “Thinking Errors,” and an appropriate classification that is. We come across a perceived threat and we immediately seek a mental justification for why we should not act. Psychologists offer a slew of such types of rationalizing; Zig Ziglar would have simply called it “stinkin’ thinkin’”:

  • Catastrophizing (making mountains out of molehills)
  • Mindreading (assuming the worst in a prospect’s thinking)
  • Overgeneralizing (making broad decisions based upon sparse experiences)
  • Labeling (jumping to conclusions about who to work with)
  • Mental Filtering (seeing what you want to see)
  • Personalizing (thinking it’s all about you)

All of these (and many more such thinking errors) fall under the category of “negative automatic thoughts.” However, they are only as automatic as we have allowed them to be—even trained them to be—over time. They are distortions of reality. They appear valid in a given moment, but they are just plain wrong.

Automatic thoughts are only as automatic as we train them to be.

These thinking errors provide us with the illusion of safety. We can hide behind what seems to be legitimate rationale. Indeed, you can choose to do just that…as long as you are prepared to endure the consequence: chronic underperformance. Rationalizations give us a comfortable place, a shelter in the winds of the sales process. However, it has been said, and rightly so, that, “a ship is safe in its harbor…but that is not what ships were built for” (anonymous).

The problem is that our thinking errors occur instinctively. So much of what we call “thinking” takes place in the dark and subconscious regions of our brains. Much of our cognitive patterns are hardwired into our DNA, providing protective instructions to deal with threatening situations. These “automatic thoughts” are just that—automatic.

This automatic pilot mode can keep us alive in some situations—when we hear a rattle coming from a bush while on a hike, or when someone enters a bank wearing a mask. It is when our threat sensitivity is over-employed in situations that are not necessarily threatening that we get into trouble.

In a sales conversation, our brains will often take a common discomfort and inflate it into a full-blown threat to our wellbeing. It happens on a deep psychological level, but it is a very real occurrence. And the effects are crippling to the success of a salesperson.

Take some time to consider what negative automatic thoughts might be holding you back. Simply by becoming aware you will increase your opportunity to program new, productive, bold thoughts. Get your thinking right…and you can change the world!

About the Author:

speaker author Be Bold and Win The SaleJeff Shore is a highly sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and executive coach whose innovative BE BOLD methodology teaches you how to change your mindset and change your world. His latest book, Be Bold and Win the Sale: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Boost Your Performance, is forthcoming from McGraw-Hill in January 2014. Learn more at jeffshore.com or follow Jeff on Twitter.

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