Optimists live longer. Optimists have better relationships. Optimists have more promotions at work. Optimists get better job performance evaluations. Optimists get higher pay. Optimists literally see more and are more open to options and opportunities. And optimists have higher sales. All of this has been proven in the psychological research. Sounds great, right? So how can you get some of that action?
There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that about two-thirds of the human population is neurologically programmed to be pessimistic. Being a pessimist has great evolutionary advantages – it allows you to be critical, to foresee problems, to accurately assess crisis situations, all much better than optimists. However, it’s not so great when you are dealing with clients and creative processes. The good news is that you can learn these optimism cognitive skills, and bring them out in appropriate situations.
According to Dr. Martin Seligman, pessimists explain bad events by saying, in essence, that bad events always happen, that they happen across different domains of life, and that they happen to ‘me’ personally. So let’s say that you wake up and fall out of bed. A pessimist would say something like, “Oh there I go again, being clumsy like always. Guess this is going to be another rotten day…” The pessimist takes the fall personally (“there I go again”) and permanently (“like always”) and sees that one bad event will ripple out pervasively to the rest of the day. An optimist would say something more like, “Whoops! The floor must be extra slippery today.” The optimist sees nothing personal in the bad event, and doesn’t extrapolate it to anything else. It’s just bad luck.
How does this apply to selling your business services? Consider how you talk to yourself when you get a call that some potential client has decided not to buy your services at this time. Do you catastrophize? Do you believe that their rejection says something about you personally? Do you let one bad call ruin your whole day, or even your whole business, believing, as a result of this one call, that you’re not cut out to do it any longer?
Feeling down when bad things happen is natural and part of being human. However, if your pessimistic thinking gets in the way of moving forward, it might be time to try something different: see the situation as isolated, a one-off occasion, and due to bad luck or unfortunate circumstances. You’ll be better off for it in the long run.
Lisa Sansom is the Founder of LVS Consulting. A certified coach and positive psychology practitioner, Lisa helps businesses, teams and individuals be at their best. For more information, please visit LVS Consulting or email Lisa directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.