The campaign used a series of print ads split down the middle, the left side labeled “Perception” and the right side “Reality.” In one case, the perception side showed a funky old hand-painted love bus, while the reality side featured a zippy, brand new sports car fit for an ambitious twenty-something urban consumer.
The campaign succeeded swimmingly at changing marketers’ erroneous attitudes about Rolling Stone’s readership and increasing the magazine’s advertising revenue. Clearly, perceptions are the reality of the mind.
An unshaven stranger lumbering towards us with his hand in his pocket may seem menacing at first. But when he pulls out a slip of paper and asks in a gentle voice if we can help him find the nearby hospital, our perceptions might quickly change.
We base our sense of reality on cues we associate with the things we want, and the things we want to avoid. Over time these cues become signs and stereotypes that guide our responses.
In any context – prospecting calls, sales meetings, and life in general – the way we present ourselves to others gets reflected back in their response to us.
When we’re on the phone prospecting, our tone, tempo, inflection and choice of words are all coloring people’s perceptions. And our mental and emotional attitude colors every aspect of the way we express ourselves to others.
If we’re worried, or feeling tired or annoyed, our attitude reflects those feelings. If we’re confident and cheerful, that’s what others are going to pick up on.
The power of attitude
When we get a call from someone who is pushy, who doesn’t listen to us or seem to care how we feel, we’re likely to react negatively and become defensive, annoyed, or even angry.
On the other hand, when we get a call from someone who is tentative and unsure of themselves, we might feel impatient or perhaps sympathetic, but we probably won’t have much confidence in what they tell us, because their attitude conveys uncertainty.
Using self-awareness as a mirror
When we see that we are not in a confident state of mind, it’s a good time to take a break and regroup. We all have our mood swings and bad days, and it’s better not to be prospecting or selling when our temperament isn’t supporting the work.
No matter how levelheaded or grounded we usually are, everyone gets thrown off kilter sometimes. That’s when we need to take stock of our attitude and change it for the better.
There are many ways to change our mindset and align our attitude with our goals, but the essential first step is to be aware of how we feel and how those feelings impact the way we’re relating to others.
Negative thoughts like I’m a failure, what a stupid move I just made, or I don’t have what it takes colors our mood and self-perception.
Every time we put ourselves down, we reinforce a negative attitude and ingrain a habit that gets deeper and deeper as it’s repeated. Repeatedly driving a car over the same dirt road again and again creates ruts, and patterns of negative thinking do the same thing to the brain.
If we don’t want to be stuck in the rut of negativity we need to pay close attention to our attitude, and the thoughts and feelings that shape it.
The seed of all effective communication is attitude. It’s continually coloring the way we relate and the way people perceive us. When our attitude is positive, we have the power to influence others in the most positive ways.
What’s your experience with attitude and perceptions? Please don’t keep it to yourself. Tell us in the comments below and let other readers see what you think.