Psychology at play during tough times
I’m running a webinar tomorrow Thursday 3/26/20 @ 9:30am / 12:30pm ET about the future of prospecting and how to fill your pipeline during uncertain times. Sign up here to watch live or check out the replay.
Our behavior gets really strange during uncertain times. And this is the craziest I’ve seen it in my lifetime (I’m only 31 okay, I understand it’s limited!)
Here’s an outline of some of the psychology I’m seeing at play right now with prospects, and how I’m checking myself for biases:
🧠 Affect Heuristic
A mental shortcut that allows people to make decisions quickly by bringing their emotional response into play. They make decisions according to their gut feeling.
I’m seeing two extremes right now: those choosing to stay in a holding pattern, and those making too many decisions based on gut feeling. I fall into the latter. Taking massive action when shit hits the fan is the only way I know how to do it. Waiting around is hard for me. But I’m taking something time to pause (thanks Jeff Bajorek) and sit on major decisions for at least 24 hours.
🧠 Availability Heuristic
A mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person’s mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision. People tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information, making new opinions biased toward the latest news.
I’m reading the news more than ever. Mostly to keep up on things affecting our business and our industry. But it’s hard not to see the latest “we’re heading to a depression!” headlines. I’m checking my decision-making to make sure it isn’t based on what I read in the news this morning.
A cognitive distortion that prompts people to jump to the worst possible conclusion after a minor setback.
Our pipeline dried up quickly in the span of a few days. Obviously, people aren’t wanting in-person sales training right now. And I quickly jumped to the worst-case scenario: what if sales training becomes obsolete and there’s no longer ever a need for what I do in the foreseeable future? I’m checking that by looking to others in my industry that are the busiest they’ve been all year. And I’m observing their behavior and talking to the ones I look up to.
And we’re taking massive action to serve clients virtually through workshops, courses, and an online community we’re launching. More on that soon.
🧠 Dunning-Kruger Effect
A cognitive bias in which people who are ignorant or unskilled in a given domain tend to believe they are much more competent than they are.
I’m constantly checking myself here—guilty as charged. Bottom line: I’m not a doctor, so I’m not giving out medical advice. I’m not an epidemiologist, so I’m not giving out advice or guidance on dealing with the mass spread of viruses and diseases. And I’m not an economist, so I’m not giving advice about the economy. It just makes things worse.
🧠 Hedonic Adaptation
People quickly return to their original level of happiness, despite major positive or negative events or life changes. When good things happen, we feel positive emotions but they don’t usually last.
Stuff is crazy right now. I had the lowest moments a few weeks ago when prospects started canceling sales calls and clients wanted to push back our work. But you know what? I returned to a fairly normal emotional state the next day. And we are choosing to focus on the people that want to hunker down right now and make the best of the situation (there’s more out there than you’d think). Know that what you’re feeling right now will likely return to a “normalish” state soon.
🧠 Hindsight Bias
The tendency of people to overestimate their ability to have predicted an outcome that could not possibly have been predicted. A psychological phenomenon in which people believe that an event was more predictable than it actually was, and can result in an oversimplification in cause and effect.
This is one I’m battling constantly. It’s hard not to look back at the last 3-6 months of decisions and wish they were different knowing what I know now. We would have built online programs and communities for our clients. But the reality is—it’s not that simple. And who knows what would have happened if we made that decision too soon. I did the best I could given the information I had.
🧠 Loss Aversion
People’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains.
This is big with our prospects. A few industries are poised to thrive right now. But many of them are taking major hits. They care about avoiding loss as much as possible. It might feel really negative, but conversations about avoiding loss are getting more interest than conversations on how you can crush it right now.
🧠 Optimism Bias
A cognitive bias that causes people to believe that they are at a lesser risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.
I’m checking myself hard on this one too. I’ve become more of a realist over the past few years. But what does that even mean? How can you quantify your level of optimism to know that it’s even a bias? I’m not sure, but right now I’m hoping for the best and over-preparing for the worst. I’m checking my optimism and making sure that “be positive!” isn’t the advice I’m giving myself or others.
🧠 Sunk Cost Fallacy
The tendency of people to irrationally follow through on an activity that is not meeting their expectations because of the time and/or money they have already spent on it.
This is tough. We were all in on launching a podcast three weeks ago. And we had to make a tough decision to back off on the number of episodes we produce every week moving forward. Instead of a daily show, it’s likely moving to one episode per week. Sunk cost fallacy was a factor here. We put in a lot of time and money into getting it launched. But we had to make a hard decision to back off and focus on areas in our business generating the results we need right now.
Well, that was pretty cathartic for me 😌
What have you noticed that’s affecting your emotional state or decision-making abilities right now?
P.S. I’m running a webinar tomorrow Thursday 3/26/20 @ 9:30am / 12:30pm ET about the future of prospecting and how to fill your pipeline during uncertain times. Sign up here to watch live or check out the replay.
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