What to Do About Your Sales Anxiety

BY Tim Londergan
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While researching this post, I discovered a name for an affliction that I have suffered. The clinical term is alexithyemia. It is defined as the inability to recognize emotions and their subtleties and textures. Interestingly, it is, in part, responsible for some of my sales anxiety. Ironically, putting a name to this disorder is related to the condition itself. You see, alexithymia makes it difficult to find words to explain feelings and thoughts. Admittedly, there is some comfort knowing I’m not alone in being unable to label my emotions.

Identifying our emotions can relieve sales anxiety

Knowing my distress with alexithymia, my wife presented me with a chart of facial caricatures. This was years ago, but you may have seen this graph entitled “Today I am feeling…” Undoubtedly, it helped to have a range of terms to describe my feelings. Like how problems cannot be resolved if they cannot be identified, emotions cannot be determined if they cannot be named.

Name that feeling

Undeniably, those in sales positions must balance a host of feelings and be skilled at governing their reactions to them. The higher the stakes, the higher the risk and eventually, the exposure of raw emotions. Mislabeling these emotions can be detrimental to success. Therefore, it’s critical that we develop the tools to gauge conditions accurately. Having confidence in our reading of the situation will reduce sales anxiety.

Regulating our emotions

How to Master Your Sales Anxiety” is the title of a recent article from the Sales Health Alliance. Author Jeff Riseley explains the importance of detecting the underlying emotions that are the bedrock of our moods. For example, he states that “moods are the overarching feelings (i.e., good, bad, positive, negative etc.) that are created by an ever changing cocktail of emotions (i.e., envy, anger, jealousy, worry, caution, excitement, trust etc.).” Consequently, our mood may be negative but until we identify the primary cause, we are helpless to dispel the threat or adjust our attitude. Fortunately, Riseley offers a step-​by-​step process for us to develop emotional literacy. Knowingly, he also refers to an emotion wheel that is much more accurate than my graph of cartoon faces.

Emotions are temporary. They do not define us.

It’s exceedingly important to realize that we are not our emotions; we merely experience our emotions. According to Riseley, “like all experiences — emotions have a beginning, a middle and an end.” This is helpful when we find ourselves trapped in a negative thought pattern while bumping up against an important meeting. Equally important is to avoid using “I” statements like, “I am angry.” Instead, experts suggest distancing yourself from your emotion by talking to yourself in the third person. Use phrasing like, “Tim is experiencing anger.” Another imperative is to listen to and maybe write down your emotions as they offer clues to the source of your sales anxiety.

Beware of cognitive distortion.

Misreading our emotions gives rise to cognitive distortion. Likewise, faulty thinking starts us down the path to more and more inaccurate perceptions. Our minds play tricks that defeat our emotional reasoning and cause us to jump to conclusions, catastrophize or personalize otherwise innocent circumstances. Knowing our inclination for these distortions can warn us of impending sales anxiety and help us dispel our fear.

Get curious about your inner mind

Jeff Risely makes the case for investing today in learning about your sales anxiety and noting how it will change and develop throughout your career. If you can name your emotion, you can control your mood. If you befriend your anxiety, you can improve your sales performance and maintain better mental health.

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash