How you explain failure determines your success

When you fail at something do you sink into despair or bounce back and try again?

Whatever we do for a living, we are all in the business of trying to persuade someone to give up something they value: attention, money, time, effort, etc., for something we offer them in exchange. That could be a regular sales conversation about our business offering, selling ourselves in a job interview or on a date, getting support for a charity and a million other situations.

No matter what we do for a living, like it or not, we’re all in the business of sales, even when our job title says something else, and even when we don’t have a traditional job.

And most of us don’t like it.

We don’t like persuading, convincing, pushing, and we really, really don’t like rejection.

I just watched a presentation by Dan Pink (author of DRIVE, the book I named my network for) who explains that there are parallels between how effective we are in sales and how effective we are as human beings – especially in how we deal with rejection or failure.

A lot of this depends on how buoyant we are and how we approach a situation.

Buoyancy is the sweet spot between levity and gravity or as Professor Martin Seligman calls it, “optimists with their eyes open”. Not so blind that we’re in la-la-land refusing to see any problems but not so weighed down that we can’t get up and try again.

Interrogative self-talk is better than pumping yourself up

Pink suggests that instead of telling yourself “You got this!”, so job done, ask “Have I got this?” and that leads into rehearsal and checking that you really have done everything you can. Interrogative self-talk is more useful than pumping yourself up and leads to a better way to deal with rejection.

The best predictor of success, not just in sales but in life, is how you explain failure. If you regularly say, “This always happens”, “Its all my fault”, “Its going to ruin everything”, this makes it hard to go on and try again.

People who are buoyant, who are able to continue and try again explain failure as:
Temporary – “I was a bit flat today.”
Specific – “It was the wrong solution for the problem.”
External – “They weren’t ready to buy right now.”

Practice defensive pessimism

Defensive pessimism – rehearsing the worst case scenario before an encounter helps to de-catastrophise it and increases buoyancy.

Do you think you’re in sales – or is that someone else’s job?

Do you like the idea of developing buoyancy to help us to deal with rejection in life as well as business?

Is buoyancy the new resilience?

Watch Dan Pink’s presentation on YouTube – it’s funny, delightful, surprising and full of useful techniques. And his style is just brilliant, especially the way he treats the women in the audience.

I firmly believe we’re all in sales, whatever our role in life or in business so if you want to talk about how you can get better at it, get in touch! 

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