After realising I would have to surrender my passport for an extended period to get a visa to a certain country (with no guarantee of success), my spouse and I decided to change our flights to visit family in the U.S.A. A friendly customer service representative assured us changing tickets would be easy and quoted a reasonable fee. But when I called a few weeks later to make the change, the interaction was significantly less positive.
“We are experiencing a larger call volume than normal. Please be patient and a customer service rep will be with you as soon as one becomes available.”
50 minutes passed.
“Hello, you’re speaking to Peter, sorry about the wait, how can I help you?”
“Hi Peter, I’m calling to change our tickets, do you need our reference number?”
He pulled up our ticket details and I explained the situation.
“We bought tickets under the assumption it would be easy to get visas since we’re both British citizens. But because of where I was born, we are concerned now that I might not get a visa and in the meantime I may need to travel. Please can we change the ticket to the U.S.A.? As you can see, we’ve travelled with you frequently for the past ten years.”
The options he presented were well over the penalty fee originally quoted and almost double the cost of the original ticket.
“There must be a mistake. I spoke with your colleague a few weeks ago and he gave us a totally different estimate.” After an extended conversation going back and forth, I requested to speak to his manager.
Two minutes later, a lady answered the phone as if I’d interrupted her binge-watching her favourite show.
“Oh, hello, would you like me to explain the situation?”
“You bought the wrong ticket and now you want to change it without paying. I already know.”
Surprised by her answer, I explained that wasn’t at all the case and we were happy to pay a reasonable fee. After an extended call, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people she had upset with her words in those 50 minutes.
The ego kills sales & service
Stress activates your amygdala, your brain’s fear centre, flooding your blood with adrenaline and noradrenaline and increasing your heart-rate and blood pressure; your body is getting ready to run or kick someone’s behind. This heightened state increases your sensitivity to anything that might normally trigger aggression . Worst of all, this stress makes you selfish and less altruistic.
Stress also reduces your wiser cognitive functions, like self-control and rational thinking. In fear mode, your only objective is survival, which is when you snap, say something snarky and act selfishly. You’re unable to access self-control, emotional regulation, empathy, problem-solving and all the really useful cognitive functions crucial to serving others and selling well.
Shift from selfish to service
Principle I of Mindful Selling is Make Space to Watch your thoughts and observe your behaviour. Doing so helps silence the incessant mental chatter causing you to get stressed and flip out. Making space allows you to take stock and assess whether the thoughts you are thinking will create the outcome you want. With awareness you have the power to make a choice and pick a different thought, so instead of reacting from survival mode, you can respond from your brain’s wiser mode.
Next time an event causes you or your team stress, use these three steps to snap out of it so you can be the caring, kind and compassionate person you are:
- Be aware: Notice you’re stressed. This can be detected from your physical state. Are you breathing shallower? Has your heart-rate increased? Do you feel tense? These are signs the fear centre is alive and kicking.
- Take a breath: Listen to your breathing for five inhalations and exhalations. Doing so takes your attention out of the thoughts causing you stress and into the present moment.
- Give: Replace the mind’s incessant chatter with affirmative thoughts and questions of giving the best service to the person in front of you. For example, “How can I make this person’s life better right now?”
When you steer your thoughts away from the stressful ones pulling you down, towards empowering ones that can lift you up, you will shift your engagement from selfish to service-oriented.
Survive or thrive
You can’t control circumstances or events. Any moment now an emergency might erupt, inviting a queue of irate customers. But you have a choice in how you respond. In stressful situations, people often run on autopilot, reacting reflexively and operating in survival mode. Their unconsciousness leaves them no choice.
When you’re mindful, you always have a choice. You can either let your ego take over and survive or get present and thrive. Which do you think would result in better outcomes for you and your business?
In my latest book Mindful Selling: Seven Principles to Banish Stress and Boldly Grow Your Impact, Your Way, you can learn more tips and strategies to stop stress ruining your day and holding you back, so you can grow your sales and impact.