Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The right Chemistry in selling - Neurochemical perspective

Do your selling  conversations stimulate the right chemistry  ?

Have you noticed that negative feedback and negative conversations fester in our minds so much longer than positive ones? 

I wonder if like me you have ever wondered why that is ?

Maybe you have received criticism from your boss,had  a disagreement with a work colleague or an argument with a friend – the hurt from any of these can make you overlook many days' worth of praise or harmony. 

Similarly if a client or manager has called criticised you, accused you of carelessness, or expressed a disappointment in you, you’re likely to remember and internalise it. The negative lingers longer.

It’s somehow easier to forget, or discount, all the times when people have said you’re talented or conscientious or that you make them proud.
'You win more with honey than vinegar'
and oxytocin than cortisol it seems !

According to work by Judith E. Glaser and Richard D. Glaser  reported in Harvard Business Review Blog, neuro-chemistry plays a large role in this phenomenon.

When we face criticism, rejection or fear, when we feel marginalised or minimised, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that shuts down the thinking centre of our brains and activates conflict aversion and protection behaviours.

We become more reactive and sensitive. We often perceive even greater judgement and negativity than actually exists. Apparently these effects can last for 26 hours or more, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behaviour.

 Cortisol functions like a slow release pill – the more we ponder on our fear, the longer the impact.

Positive comments and conversations produce a chemical reaction too. They spur the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others by activating networks in our prefrontal cortex.

 But oxytocin metabolises more quickly than cortisol, so its effects are less dramatic and long-lasting.

I  contacted  Judith Glaser to ask whether  such research could be applied to the buyer seller interaction. She explained to me that

 “Yes - we spent the first 20 years of our business career examining the buyer seller relationship and found patterns of interaction that were closing down and others that were opening up the relationship.”

“I wrote about them in the Introduction of my book - Conversational Intelligence *…. and the work with them was the catalyst for the work I do today. “

This “chemistry of conversations” is why it’s so critical for all of us –suppliers and clients – to be more mindful about our interactions.  

 Behaviours that increase cortisol levels reduce what  Richard Glaser calls “Conversational Intelligence” or “C-IQ,” or a person’s ability to connect and think innovatively, empathetically, creatively and strategically with others. Behaviours that spark oxytocin, by contrast, raise C-IQ.

As sales professionals I guess we need to be specialists in raising C-IQ.

Although the Glasers'  recent research focused on management subordinate interactions the concept of Conversational Intelligence resonates well for certain supplier / client interactions in selling and negotiation.

The CreatingWE Institute,  partnered with Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics,  an online survey software company,  analysed the frequency of negative (cortisol-producing) versus positive (oxytocin-producing) interactions in today’s workplaces. They asked managers how often they engaged in several behaviours — some positive, and others negative — on a scale of 0 through 5, in which 0 was “never” and 5 was “always.”

Source :Creating WE  Institute Qualtrics          HBR.ORG May 2014

Richard Glaser reports "The good news is that managers appear to be using positive, oxytocin and C-IQ elevating behaviours more often than negative behaviours. Survey respondents said that they exhibited all five positive behaviours, such as “showing concern for others” more frequently than all five negative ones, such as “pretending to be listening.”

 However, most respondents – approximately 85% — also admitted to “sometimes” acting in ways that could derail not only specific interactions but also future relationships.

 And, unfortunately, when leaders exhibit both types of behaviours it creates dissonance or uncertainty in followers’ brains, spurring cortisol production and reducing CI-Q.

 Richard Glaser does not suggest that you can’t ever demand results or deliver difficult feedback. But it’s important to do so in a manner that is perceived as inclusive and supportive, thereby limiting cortisol production and hopefully stimulating oxytocin instead.

 We should be mindful of the behaviours that open us up, and those that close us down, in our selling relationships. Knowing that there are chemical effects at work reinforces good conversational practise. 

It seems wise to "harness the chemistry of conversations" stimulating more Oxytoxin than cortisol producing behaviours.

Or to use an old proverb you win more with honey than vinegar

Related links
The Creating WE Institute

Conversational Intelligence : How great leaders build trust and get extraordinary results by Judith E Glaser  ISBN 978-1-937134-67—9 hardback published by Bibliomotion available on Kindle   2014

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