How to avoid scripted behaviours
In the last weeks (both in articles and in podcasts) I focused on the ‘Expertise Problem’, a problem that all the salespeople (especially the younger generation) are exposed to.
Given the great availability of knowledge and research in sales, an in-depth study of the topic can improve our skills but can be a limit too: in fact, by continually reinforcing our learned principles we can limit our openness for novelty and change.
In other words, by always reinforcing to the concepts we are most passionate about can be a barrier for the development of new knowledge which would lead to a change in the paradigms we were trained on.
Last week I provided a practical advice which can be applied in everyday life: today I’d like to continue along this path and suggest a practical exercise to be done, however, only in professional settings.
As you will see you can do this exercise at the beginning of the day, during the day or just before an activity highly subjected to scripted behaviours – calls and e-mails above all.
As I often do I will start with a book that helped me in this thinking: ‘Elastic’ by Leonard Mlonidow, something I strongly recommend you to read.
According to the author, the first step in avoiding ‘scripted’ behaviours is to realize when you apply them, so you can get rid of them if they are not functional for goal achievement.
This state of mind is called wakefulness, a concept that has its roots in Buddhism.
When we are vigilant we are totally aware of our ideas, perceptions, sensations, feelings and thoughts so we accept accept them calmly and consciously – as if we see them clearly in front of us.
This state of wakefulness and continuous attention requires constant efforts to be achieved and mental exercises (such as the one I will recommend shortly) are particularly useful.
Among my favourites is what Mlodinow calls Mindfulness of Thoughts, which can be done in 20 minutes or less: as I mentioned I strongly recommend this activity at the beginning of the day or before an activity with a high risk of scripted behaviour.
First close your eyes and take deep breaths, focusing on your breath until you have reached a state of calm.
Next, try stretch your concentration by letting in all your thoughts little by little, as if creating a mental list of them.
One at a time focus on them by asking yourself questions such as:
- Is this thought related to a feeling? To an image?
- What emotion does this thought trigger in me?
- Can I focus on the thought or does my mind always brings me back to another thought?
- And if so, is this new thought related to the previous one or is it unrelated to it?
An important note – don’t expect the exercise to take you directly somewhere.
The goal of the exercise is not to bring you closer to your thoughts but to help you to develop the wakefulness I mentioned earlier: a conscious state in which you are able to realize immediately when you are using ‘scripted behaviours’ which are not functional to the goal you want to achieve.