How To Use Emotional Intelligence to Conquer the Most Stressful Sales Jobs

BY Tim Londergan
Featured image for “How To Use Emotional Intelligence to Conquer the Most Stressful Sales Jobs”

Several months ago, I wrote about emotionally motivated selling and how our emotions often mislead us. At the time the focus was to slow down so we can recognize the opportunity to temper our emotions and clear our heads to objectively pursue the best sales solution. Similarly, the emphasis was to keep our ego in check and to avoid being over-​confident. However, as we cope with stressful sales jobs, it’s imperative to consistently tap our emotional intelligence to deal with tough emotions day-to-day.

Stressful sales jobs require a strategic approach

As if life is not tough enough, stressful sales jobs come with a host of aggravation that basically comes with the territory. Whether it’s handling rejection, time management, meeting quotas, or adapting to an ever-​changing marketplace, selling seems to be filled with make-​or-​break moments.

Reminder: “You get a say in how you feel about something”

In sales there are some things you just can’t change. For instance, the features of your product are just that. You can’t wave a wand to turbo-​charge it. Similarly, you can’t insist your competitors disclose the unsavory business practices they pursue with other clients. However, you can “start by changing your reaction to it.” That’s the statement by Oprah Winfrey and Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks, in a Wall Street Journal article reviewed by Jessica Stillman for

The media queen and the professor come together to remind us that if we can’t change our circumstances, we can change how we feel about them. In doing so, they cite the same study referenced in my previous article. However, their application of the WISER model, created by the Harvard Study of Adult Development, takes aim at our stressful sales jobs and how we can more effectively approach the world.

Problem: Our feelings get in the way of our good intentions

"Everyone — even the most privileged among us — has life conditions they would like to change," Oprah writes in the article. If it’s any consolation, no one is immune from fear or stress. Emotionally charged situations lurk just below the surface in stressful sales jobs. Unfortunately, they don’t self-​correct and if we fail to react, they arise more urgently and powerfully tomorrow. The remedy is to hit the pause button. Easier said than done, we must slow our reactions, be mindful of our emotions and devise a strategy best suited to the situation.

The WISER Model in action:

The key words of the acronym shape the action that can lead you to take control of your emotions and gain the space to THINK:

Watch – This is the awaited pause button: “Thoughtful observation can round out our initial impressions and expand our view of the situation…” (Waldinger and Schultz of the Harvard Study of Adult Development).  Easy to say but extremely hard to pull off. However, taking time here can save many apologies or embarrassing situations.

Interpret – Take stock of your observations. Be exceedingly clear of what you know and, more importantly, what you do not know. Empathy and understanding of others’ views are key. Accurate information can avoid hasty conclusions.

Select – Choose wisely your course of action. What is your desired outcome? Where are your strengths and weaknesses and what is at stake? If contentious, can this be turned into a positive experience?

Engage – Every situation is unique in this regard. Does humor diffuse the tension? Would both parties welcome a private discussion?

Reflect – What happened and why? Does your credibility remain intact? Review the cause and effects to help understand the emotionally motivated cascade that transpired and how you can do better next time.

Stressful sales jobs can be hard on relationships and even your personal health. However, the WISER Model may help you relieve the pressure and quiet the anxiety.

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash