What happens the first time you try a new selling or management technique? It’s usually uncomfortable and doesn’t go as smoothly as it did in the class/coaching session or how you imagined it would go. Often you come away feeling bad. There are physiological reasons for this discomfort and awkwardness.
When you see or hear something new, your brain goes through a conscious process of evaluating whether that new behavior has any potential payoff, and you form an expectation of what might happen next. It’s the “self talk” we all do to weigh the pros and cons, and then comment (to ourselves) on how the new idea is like, or not like, something we already know about(whether good or bad). Most of this happens in the unconscious part of our mind.
At the same time, and at a much faster rate, our brain performs a self test to see how well this new idea would fit with all the pre-existing patterns in the unconscious part of our brain. If there is a conflict, we get an uncomfortable gut feeling or hear our inner voice say something like,”No way!” usually before we’ve completed the conscious evaluation. If the warning is loud enough, we usually say, “That might work for them,” or, “Maybe in another industry, but that’s not going to work for me,” and we drop the idea and move on.
If it’s only slightly uncomfortable, we might say, “I need to do better and this could work.” Then there is an opportunity for change. So what’s really going on in our head? To ensure survival, the brain primarily operates using unconscious information. Rather than evaluate every interaction with the world as if it is a new event, the brain reacts efficiently and reliably to most events. The brain reacts through neural pathways called basal ganglia. These networks grow every time we use them. The brain acts efficiently by following the pathways that are used most often.
Change happens when we make a decision to leave our comfort zone (the comfortable and most used pathways in our brain) and consciously take (make) a new path. High performing sales professionals regularly learn a new idea, try it, feel uncomfortable, but carry it through with a conscious decision rather than follow their unconscious promptings.
Sales pros often tell us about a special moment when they did something on a sales call that felt risky, even dangerous. Usually this happens when they consciously decide that if they want different results, they will have to try different (and sometimes uncomfortable behaviors).These aren’t instant miracles. These are the first steps in a path to change the neural pathways in the brain.