Working on the telephone, selling things or advising or just taking calls from people…is extremely hazardous to your health and wellbeing.
Seriously it is.
But you can also be very hazardous to your customers or people we talk to purely by the mood we bring into work with us.
Picture this. Brian has had a terrible night – he had an argument with his partner, and his middle son was very poorly during the night and was up and down like a yo-yo causing poor Brian to wake up several times to see to him.
He missed the bus on his way to work. It was raining cats and dogs.
He arrived at work, soaked to the skin, and was told by his supervisor that a complaint has been lodged against him. And his second call of the day was from a customer who was in an even worse mood than Brian. What sort of frame of mind do you think Brian will be in? Pretty dire I’m sure.
The key here, is that we can all choose our mood but circumstances influence this during the day. We all need strategies to help us deal with mood swings and we need to adopt these to help us choose our mood.
Many people now firmly believe that the body and the mind are connected. Put it differently, what you do with your body affects how you feel.
I like to go for a run, or to the gym or take the dog for a brisk walk. This gives me a boost of endorphins which make me feel energised.
A couple of years’ ago I spent an evening dressed as Santa Clause all for good causes. Myself and a number of friends got together to work the housing estates in our town, to gather donations towards charities.
It was very cold, snowing and dark in Tewkesbury that night. But the magic of Christmas was in the air and we were all looking forward to a great evening of entertaining the children and people of our small town.
Being the last to turn up to the meeting rendezvous I had been volunteered to be Santa that night and was given the uniform to wear. Long white beard, red hat, trousers and shirt with a big pillow underneath. I looked pretty cool I must say and with a “ho, ho, ho” I sounded the part too.
I sat on our make shift sleigh which was being towed by one of the lads’ 4x4s around the estate with carol music blaring out, it was a sight to behold and I was having the time of my life.
Kids were laughing, adults were donating and the evening was enchanted until…we arrived at the Acorns Old Peoples home.
My friend and I walked in together, he carrying the bucket of money shaking it vigorously. We walked straight into the main rest room accompanied by the manager. Along the back wall were armchairs and sofas with a huge TV the centre of attention. There sat 14 old people slumped in their chairs, looking totally comotosed. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.
I thought a big “ho, ho, ho” would do the trick so as loud as I could muster I gave it a go. One or two looked around, but quickly settled back to the comfort of the TV show. My next trick was to move over to the window and beckon one of the guests over to have a look at the street scene. Laughing children, carols being played, Santa’s sleigh and a trickle of snow falling from the sky. Wonderful.
And slowly one by one the guests began to leave their seats and look out of the window.
Within 2 minutes the whole atmosphere of the room changed. Yes, the scene outside helped, but the real reason was the body movements of the guests. Within two minutes everyone in that room was moving around energetically and it was this change in the use of their bodies that energised their minds and cleared the atmosphere.
So what do you do with your body whilst on the phone? Do you slump in your seat crunched forward killing your diaphragm for hours on end?
Your posture can help you feel confident, energetic and in control. To do this when sitting, for example, keep your head up and maintain an open stance, both feet on the floor, square on to the desk, bottom to the back of the seat. This gives you a feeling of control over yourself and the situation.
Hunching your shoulders and drawing your body in on itself and angling away can make you sound disinterested.
Getting out of your seat occasionally and moving around. Standing to take calls also affects your mind and mood. Fresh air when you can, does wonders and sunshine in the winter helps with the mood swings. I’ve noticed call handlers with SAD lamps by their desks. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder and is mainly due to the lack of sunshine.
We know about self talk and how it can affect salespeople and their sales performance. What we think about, affects how we feel and this in turn affects what action we take.
So thinking or self talk has a deliberate connection with how we feel. The other popular way of looking at this is the conscious and unconscious mind idea that’s been floating around for a few years now.
I buy into this but I don’t like all the terms we use. Unconscious mind sounds a bit whacky doesn’t it. Put simply everything we’re conscious of doing such as typing on my laptop, the music I’m listening to, my own self talk is all in the conscious mind. However there’s loads going on behind the curtain which is automated and is maintaining my body systems and collecting data from my conscious mind all the time. The behind the scenes mind or unconscious mind, continually receives data from your conscious mind and then assumes this is true and stores it.
It’s a bit like a computer. All it does is store the data we put into it. It doesn’t filter the data, or think about it’s authenticity – it just stores it until we need it again.
Your unconscious mind will leak feelings back to you and these affect your actions. And the best way of influencing these feelings is to self talk to your unconscious mind.
I remember flying with a friend from Dublin to Birmingham. I’d only met this person briefly in Dublin and we were sitting next to each other. You know when you first meet someone, you want to chat and talk. Silence is not so good unless the person is a real good friend. They say that don’t they? Your best friend is someone you are comfortable being silent with.
Anyway we were chatting away happily and the conversation turned to our fears of flying. I explained that I dreaded the landing. How vulnerable the plane must be – a huge piece of engineering landing a few flimsy looking wheels. A crash is imminent. Neive continued to talk about her fear of turbulence and losing control whilst 20,000 feet about the Isle of Mann.
Now you can imagine what this talking was doing to our state of mind. I was dreading landing in 30 minutes time and poor old Neive’s face when the Captain announced we were heading into some turbulence!
Now that was actual talk but self talk is the same except other people can’t hear it.
The trick is to feed your unconscious mind with positive self talk when you want to improve your feelings or state of mind.
I always recall the scene in my favourite movie “American Beauty” when Annette Bening is frantically cleaning a house she is about to show a prospective client and she keeps saying to herself “I will sell this house, I will sell this house, I will sell…”
One of the bests ways to so this is by using Affirmations.
Affirmations are really powerful little tricks that literally re-programme the unconscious mind into believing something else. This is what you want to do. Write down on a piece of paper a short positive instruction such as I am… or I will…or I always….
Then repeat the affirmation several times a day for 21 days. This sounds like a doctor’s prescription. After 21 days the mind will be programmed to believe in the affirmation. Some affirmation rules:
- Keep them short and in the present tense – I am, I will
- Make them positive ie to do something not to stop something
- Keep them personal to you.
- Only have 10 maximum at a time
I have a nifty piece of software that blinks my affirmations on my computer screen countless times a day. I don’t see them as the blink is too quick but my unconscious mind is accepting them. This is called subliminal marketing and it was banned in the 1950’s. So don’t go doing this to your customers.
Try affirmations, they work
Nautical term this is not. They are triggers that get your unconscious mind to leak a feeling back to your conscious mind. This affects your feelings. I’ll go out later and be bombarded by images, sounds and smells that will bring back a memory. My unconscious mind will leak this memory back to my unconscious along with a feeling about the memory.
I could hear church bells and this might remind me of my wedding day and bring back those wonderful feelings I experienced on the day. I might smell some cut grass and be reminded of having to cut my own grass at home which is something I don’t enjoy so will bring my state down. A tele-salesperson might pick up the phone to take a call and this memory might trigger a bad state. It could be that all morning he’s had some terrible calls and he’s conditioned his mind to convince himself that whenever he picks up the phone, it’s bad news.
But anchoring can help you control your state of mind. The idea is to attach something to a memory so you can re-experience the feeling that is associated with the memory.
I imagine you’ve all heard of Pavlov’s Dogs. Very famous example of dogs salivating with a ring of a bell because they associated the ring as the time when food gets delivered.
Advertisers spend millions on getting us to associate famous personalities with their product. I worked for a company recently that used June Whitfield in their advertising. There was June saying great things about the product and the viewers would watch the commercial, glance at June, get a warm feeling of security, nostalgia, integrity and then attach these feelings to the product being sold.
Our dog Brodie loves it when she’s in the garden but loves it even more when she escapes into the Church Yard or next door to explore. Faced with a huge fence bill to ensure she didn’t escape, we opted for one of these dog training devices as it was much cheaper and would create less turmoil. I was a little sceptical at first. After all laying a wire underground around the boundary and strapping a collar on Brodie which would give her a short electric shock every time she crossed the boundary….well.
Well what can I say? And before everyone writes in to complain of animal cruelty, it didn’t turn out like that. Yes she had a couple of shocks but with a day she no longer approached the invisible boundary wire because she knew what might happen to her.
Within a week, we just put the collar on Brody and didn’t even bother to switch on the electric current. We call it the “Oweee” collar and she has never escaped once. Now this is one big anchor and Brody relates the “Oweee” collar to pain on the boundary and won’t go near there.
So we’ve produced a visible, vocal and physical touch anchor.
Now I’m not saying we should wear collars when selling, but what I am urging you to do is to set up your own series of anchors that will bring back a memory and flood your conscious mind with a feeling or two and this will affect your state.
A good friend of mine used to dread doing presentations until he went out and bought himself a special presentation suit. He self talked, ran affirmations and did loads of mental rehearsal to ensure his presentation would be good when he wore the suit. He worked hard at this and is was good. So good in fact that he only needs to put on this suit to bring back all the wonderful feelings of confidence, assuredness, relaxed state he was in when he first wore the suit.
I imagine that he would only need to think of the suit. Put a really good picture of himself in his minds eye wearing the suit and presenting well and that would be enough to bring back the positive state of mind he needs to present. I wonder what would happen to my friend if he had to buy a new suit?
So how can you set up an anchor?
You need to experience the state of mind that you want to bottle up first. Now you can wait until this state naturally happens and make the most of the moment. Or you can go back in your mind’s eye to remember a moment when you were going through that state of mind.
When you have the memory clear in your mind, really try and imagine it much more. Get in the picture; get in the zone as they say these days. Recall the sounds around you, the smells, the feelings and what you see around you.
Next put a stimulus into your conscious mind. Try and get all three senses ie visual, touch and sound. Go for taste and smell as well if you wish. For example you might press your right hand finger and thumb together, when recalling a favourite song in your head.
Repeat this as many times as you can. With Brodie it took a few “Oweee Collar” moments to anchor her. Just like our affirmations from earlier, you need to convince your unconscious mind through repetition. After a short while all you’ll need to do is fire off the anchor you created to let your unconscious just flood your mind with those lovely feelings you stored up.
Try it, it does work.
So next time you’re feeling low or negative or feeling that you can’t sell anymore, get your body active in the right way, fire off some anchors and get that self talk going to your advantage. Spend some time on your mind and remember that the unconscious mind delivers feelings but we can convince this to give us the right feelings.
After all selling is a such a topsy turvy business. You have your ups and downs and we are only humans at the end of day. Flesh and blood bristling with emotions and feelings. Learn how to control them to give you that head start on everyone else.