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Today Will Be A Good Day Because…

Do you believe in mantras or affirmations? I didn’t for a long time but I’m a believer now. I’ve seen the benefits firsthand and science supports how they can impact you. Each day at 5 am a message pops up on my phone that reads:

This is the day the Lord has made. I will be glad and rejoice in it.
Today will be a good day because I will approach everything with a positive attitude.
I will learn from every situation.

Depending on your belief system you may or may not appreciate or agree with the first line. That’s okay because we all have different views when it comes to faith. Let’s focus on the rest of the affirmation.

Today

I’ve heard it said if you’re standing with one foot in the past and one in the future you’re pissing on today. It’s a funny visual and I hope you’ll recall the following whenever you picture it: The past has shaped who you are today and the future will determine the kind of person you become. But, today is all you have and the only thing you can control are the choices you make.

Will be a good day

Good and bad are nothing more than a function of your mind. Shakespeare said as much when he wrote, “There’s nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” It’s not uncommon to hear people who’ve been through unbelievable hardship acknowledge that good came from their circumstances.

You can choose to make today a good day by making choices about what you see, listen to, do and set your mind on. You can choose to look for the positive in any situation. To think otherwise is to give up your freedom according to Viktor Frankl.

Because I will approach everything with a positive attitude.

Frankl knows a thing or two about freedom and captivity because he experienced both during his years in Nazi concentration camps. In Man’s Search for Meaning he told readers, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Frankl came to realize nobody could make him think anything he didn’t want to think; that he was always free to choose where he would place his thoughts.

I will learn from every situation.

The human brain is a learning machine. It’s how you learn what you like, dislike, who to trust, fear and love, and much more. You may not realize it but much of what you’ve learned came about passively. That passivity often leads to less than optimal thought patterns and behaviors.

I am far from perfect in living out this affirmation. Quite often I realize in the middle of a situation, or afterwards, that my attitude was not good. But, in that moment of realization I have a choice. I can blow it off by blaming someone or circumstances. Or, I can learn by ask myself why my attitude was poor and question what I can do to change it next time.

The more I do learn the better I get at maintaining a positive attitude. It’s almost like catching myself in the moment and saying, “Wait, I’ve been here before. I’m not going to make the same mistake.”

Conclusion

Affirmations have gotten a bad rap over time and are often mocked. That’s understandable, especially when charlatans use them to take advantage of people. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Focusing on what you want – a positive attitude and learning mindset in my case – is good! The more you set your mind on positive qualities the more likely you are to live them or correct for them.

The more you focus on positive qualities, the deeper they penetrate your subconscious. As this happens, before you know it you’re living them without having to be so intentional. That’s how your brain learns and directs you.

Here’s my challenge for you. Give thought this week to one or two qualities you want to have or have in greater measure. Make sure they will benefit you and those who are around you. Come up with your own affirmation and make it a part of your daily ritual early and often. Then pay attention to the impact it has on you and others.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the topic of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – will be available for pre-sale on July 9and goes live on August 20.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalitiesthis fall.

“Don’t Do That” Might Cause Someone To Do That!

Sometimes you inadvertently work against yourself without even knowing it. Case in point, you want someone to not do something so you tell them, “Don’t do that.” Your approach is quick and to the point but it might make the person more likely to do that very thing! Here are a few examples you might relate to:

  • You tell your child, “Don’t watch that television program, it’s trash.” Your motive is good, keep negative influences away from your child.
  • When talking to your spouse you remind him or her, “Don’t eat that, it’s unhealthy,” because you care about their health.
  • Your thoughts are, “Don’t go in the water,” as you prepare to tee off on the 18th hole where there’s water on the right.

Good Intention, Poor Execution

Your intention is good in each case but the execution could be better.  You see, a couple of things are working against you and you probably didn’t realize it: priming and scarcity. Let’s take a quick look at each.

Priming

Priming is the concept that many things influence your thinking and subsequent behavior with little or no awareness on your part. Small cues in the environment, what you see, read and hear can cause you to behave in ways you might not normally or would be less likely to in the absence of the primes.

One simple example comes from a Dutch study where obese people were given coupons upon entering a grocery store. Some people received coupons that had words related to dieting and healthy living. Others were given coupons that did not contain those words. The result, those with the healthy words bought far fewer unhealthy items because they were primed to think about more health-conscious choices.

Mentioning the television program, unhealthy food and water on the golf course only serve to draw attention to each and makes the unwanted behavior more likely to occur. Consider this example; don’t think about a tiger. Unless you consciously switch your thoughts to something like a bear, a dog or something altogether different, it’s a good bet you’re thinking about a tiger. And telling yourself, “Don’t think about a tiger,” only makes you think about a tiger!

Scarcity

The second factor that works against you in many cases is scarcity. It’s human nature to want whatever is rare, scarce or going away. If you think you can’t have something you almost instinctively want it. And, whenever some freedom is perceived to be restricted you work harder to preserve that freedom.

In the examples of television and food noted above, each admonition restricts the other person only causing them to want the thing even more.

What can you do?

What are you to do then if you want a different behavior? Your best bet is to direct attention away from the behavior you don’t want to a behavior you prefer. Rather than telling someone to not think about a tiger, tell them to think about dogs, horses or some other animal. Let’s take a look at our examples:

  1. You direct your child to a different television program, preferably giving choices so he or she feels a sense of control. “How about a Disney movie or Sesame Street instead?”
  2. The same thought applies to your spouse and food. Direct him or her to healthy alternatives and give choices. “Would you rather have veggies and hummus or fruit with yogurt for our snack?”
  3. When it comes to golf, focus on what you want. You can do so by telling yourself, “Aim at the tree on the left to keep the ball on the left side of the fairway.” This should keep you out of the water more often than not.

Conclusion

Will these approaches work every time? Of course not because this isn’t a magic wand. However, each approach will work more often than focusing on telling someone, “Don’t do that.” In the long run, using an approach as I’ve outlined will get you what you want more often. Considering it’s a small, costless change, isn’t it worth giving a try?

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by more than 50,000 people! His latest course, Persuasive Coaching, just went live. Have you watched them yet? If not, click on either course name to see what you’ve been missing.

Setting the Stage for a Successful Sales Call

Let me ask you a question and please be
honest; doesn’t it bother you when the doorbell rings and someone has showed up
unannounced and tries to sell you something? I’m confident everyone reading
this agrees that’s not how you want to be approached. Then why do salespeople
do that to their business customers?
Salesperson – “Hi Pat. I was in the area and
thought I’d pop in to say hello. Do you have a few minutes to talk because I’d
love to tell you about…blah, blah, blah.”
All too often people agree to give up some
time because they don’t want to appear rude but here’s a newsflash for the
offensive salesperson – they aren’t
listening to you!
They’re wondering why they didn’t honestly tell you they
didn’t have time to see you and are counting the minutes until you leave.
Holding successful sales calls entails setting
the stage because you want to be in front of people who want to see you and
believe you might just be able to help them or their business.
So how do you set the stage? A little pre-call
planning and understanding psychology goes a long way.
Common courtesy dictates you contact a client
(current or potential) to find a date and time that works for both of you. I
always suggest doing this by phone because it allows you to inform them about
why you want to see them and find out if there are any things you should be
considering in advance.
Salesperson – “Hi Pat, it’s Jim. I was calling
to see if we could find a time when I could stop by. I’d like to find out how
things are going and share with you some things I think you’ll find very
interesting.”
A big reason to make this initial contact is
to give the client time to think about you, your company, and your product or
service.
Next, follow up immediately with an email
thanking them for their willingness to meet with you, confirming the date and
time, and giving them some information to look over and think about. Make sure
to ask them if they will look at it in advance because when they say yes, the
likelihood they will do it goes up. This approach taps into the principle of consistency
– people feel internal psychological pressure and external social pressure to
be consistent in what they say and do.
Salesperson – “Thanks for making time to see
me next Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. To get the most out of our time would you take a few
moments to look at the link below?”
Setting up the sales call like this also taps
into a psychological concept known as priming. Simply sharing information
beforehand can change how people think and behave.
Resend the original email on the day of the
sales call to remind the client of the time and ask if they’ve looked at the
information you shared. If they haven’t already they’re very likely to in
response to your email. Again, they don’t want to meet with you and not have
done what you asked.
As the meeting starts, again, thank them for
their time. Allow them the opportunity to share what’s on their mind before you
launch into your presentation.
After the meeting it’s always a good idea to
send a follow-up email. The reason for this email is to confirm any sale,
agreed upon next steps or action items. If you came away with a different
impression than the client this is the time miscommunication can be dealt with.
If you’re a salesperson I challenge you to try
this approach to a sales call. Clients and potential clients will appreciate
you respecting their time. You’ll also have the benefit of a much more
productive meeting because your contact will have had three or four
opportunities to think about your offer.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

I was so mad I could have spit!

Not too long ago I was so mad I could’ve spit! I really lost my cool and that actually bothered me more than the situation that got me so upset in the first place. They say real wisdom is learning from other’s mistakes so hopefully you’ll be a little wiser having read this.

Let’s back up to the situation and start from there. It was really no big deal, a dead car battery in Jane’s SUV. Fortunately it was parked at the house and not somewhere on the road so I tried to jump it but had no luck. AAA came out and got the car started but as soon as we turned it off it was totally dead again. They started the car one more time and we let it run for quite some time to charge the battery a little. Trying to be the dutiful husband I told Jane I’d drive her car to Advanced Auto Parts to get the new battery installed while she worked on dinner. As I drove away from the house I had one thought in mind – don’t stall the car because I won’t be able to start it again. Like most men I thought I knew where I was going but I ended up at the NAPA store, not Advanced Auto Parts. That wouldn’t have been so bad except NAPA was closed. So much for my memory and assurance to Jane that I knew where I was going! When I realized my dilemma I called Jane because we’d looked up the store phone number on the internet so I knew she could easily pull it up and tell me where to go. As she was telling me I started backing out of the NAPA lot and stalled the car! To make matters worse it started to thunder and lightning. So there I am, having done exactly what I tried not to do – stall the car! Because the battery was dead there was no air conditioning and I knew I’d have to wait an hour or so before AAA would come. Great!

While all of this was happening and curses were flying out of my mouth Jane was still on the phone. I wasn’t mildly upset, I was totally pissed off. I used to have a really bad temper and it’s gotten much better over the years but every now and then it still raises its ugly head. While it’s usually directed at myself for making some kind of mistake it’s not pretty to be around. It’s a part of me that I really, really dislike.I usually start my day with this phrase, “This is the day the Lord has made so I will be glad and rejoice in it. Today will be a good day because I will approach everything with a positive attitude and I’ll learn from every situation.” Well, my attitude wasn’t so positive there in the NAPA parking lot but I’m learning from it and, as I said in the opening, I hope you do too.Here was my big mistake – I focused on what I didn’t want to have happen which was stalling the car. I can’t remember the last time I stalled the car but as I left the house “don’t stall” was front and center on my mind. I should know better because I teach about this in sales courses.

Have you ever seen the television show Frazier? If you have then maybe you recall the episode where Frazier and Niles tried to learn to ride bikes. Frazier struggled because every time he didn’t want to run into something he kept his eye on it thinking that would help him avoid the obstacle but as you might guess, he’d always run into whatever he kept his eye on! He focused on what he didn’t want to do and that’s what he ended up doing. Frazier’s dilemma is a picture of what occurs in our brains when we think “don’t…”

You see, the brain doesn’t process the “don’t” in a statement but it does picture the object. For example, if I tell you, “Don’t think about elephants,” you will think about elephants, at least momentarily. Crazy as it sounds, the more you try not to think about elephants the more you usually do. To prove my point I often ask golfers in my training sessions, “What do you think when you come to a hole with water?” The typical response is, “Don’t go in the water.” When I ask what happens most of the time people laugh and acknowledge they often end up in the water. Why does that happen? Because the water is what they’re focused on even though it’s prefaced with “don’t.”So what’s a person to do? Very simple, you need to focus on what you want to happen. For me that would be easy on the golf course but unfortunately in the scenario I found myself in I was blind to my own teaching. In a way I was like the accountant who forgets to balance his check book, the investment guy who’s not saving enough for his own retirement or the doctor who “occasionally” over-eats. I failed to take my own good advice. I think a couple of good things will come from this. First, because the situation was so emotional for me I’ll probably catch myself before I make the same mistake again. The other good outcome might be you remembering my story next time you have to make a decision and your choices are “what to do” or “what to not do.” Take it from me, focus on what you want and leave it at that. Doing so might just save you a big headache and a lot of time.

Brian
influencepeople
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.