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Decisions are Never Emotional

Submitted by on Friday, 30 October 2009

emotional-decisionsImagine if instead of believing that unexpected decisions are emotional, we assume they have a very specific reason, even if we don’t understand or agree. Then what? Is it just easier to believe the other person to be irrational?

Do you remember, back in the day, when docs said that women suffering from PMS were hysterical and they needed to have a hysterectomy (that’s where the word ‘hysterical’ comes from btw)? They didn’t understand the physiology underlying the physical issues, and relegated the problem to emotions.

My son has a neurological disease called Dystonia. There is no physical/medical test for it (although it’s very obvious what it is if you are familiar with it), and for many years people suffered with it and had to go to mental institutions because it was called an ’emotional’ disease. In fact, when I lived in London and my son needed his perscriptions filled from our NY neurologist, our ‘surgery’ doc (the UK medical model) told us he needed a psychiatrist, not meds for his uncontrollable spasms.

Historically, when we don’t understand the roots of something we assume there is an emotional component, with the underlying belief being that there is something ‘not quite right’ with the person experiencing what is outside our comfort zone.

BUYER’S PURCHASES MUST COMPLY WITH THEIR SYSTEM

Because buyers take actions that sellers regularly believe to be ‘irrational’, we say that they are either ‘stupid’ or making an ’emotional’ decision. Neuroscientists calls these decisions irrational or emotional as well. But we – sellers and neuroscientists – are rather biased: we see a problem, believe we know the solution, and consider our solution to be the best because it’s the most rational. We forget that every person, every group or family, every system if you will, has a very unique and idiosyncratic set of beliefs and criteria that determine their choices. And what may look irrational from the outside is very very rational on the inside, even if sometimes unconscious.

Indeed, before anyone makes any decision, they consider it against their own beliefs. Would you walk over to a stranger in a park and harm him? No? Why not? That would be an emotional, irrational decision. But you wouldn’t do it because you have internal, unconscious beliefs and values that wouldn’t allow you to harm another person – especially a stranger.

No one makes decisions outside of their beliefs. The internal, private ‘system’ that makes up our functioning rules (as individuals or groups) is sacrosanct, and if any decision might render the system useless, or ‘less-than,’ then another decision will be made. And outsiders cannot understand what’s going or become a part of that decision becasue, well, because they are outsiders.

Ever wonder why your friend stayed with her/his spouse? You’ll never understand. But it’s not irrational to him or her; it meets a need of some sort. Indeed, why haven’t you lost those ‘5’ pounds? And why don’t you eat healthier, or work out more, or spend more time with your kids, or or or or. It might look irrational to me, but you have a very unique, idiosyncratic set of internal beliefs that kinda fit together and make up who you are, and if you try to change one piece of this, the rest of the system has distress.

If you were going to start working out daily, you’d have to either get up earlier or move something else in your schedule around. You’d have to probably start considering to eat healthier, and maybe stop having so many beers. It’s not about the gym, or about the weights; it’s about your system and how it’s willing to change so it all becomes a seamless whole that operates in tandem to serve you.

Buyers live in a unique system of rules and roles and relationships, history and initiatives, feelings and vendors and budgets. Change anything and everything else gets touched in some way. Before buyers buy, they must figure out how to manage all this so it ends up butter-side-up; understanding their needs, doing SPIN or Sandler or Relationship sales, or or or, only manages the problem end of the buying decision – the very very last action that buyers need to take – AFTER they’ve managed their systems change bits. And again, no matter what we ask or what we are told, we can never, ever understand someone else’s system, just as they can’t understand ours.

My new book discusses all of this in detail, and explains what’s going on behind-the-scenes, and why. And it teaches how to help buyers discover and address all of their unconscious issues so they can make a congruent decision. Think about it. Think about your decisions and how you make them, and the beliefs you must consider first. Then apply the same beliefs to your buyers.

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Or consider purchasing the bundleDirty Little Secrets plus my last book Buying Facilitation™: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions. These books were written to be read together, as they offer the full complement of concepts to help you learn and understand Buying Facilitation™ – the new skill set that gives you the ability to lead buyers through their buying decisions. You still get the freebies with the bundle order.

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  • Doug Davidoff

    Sharon,

    While I certainly agree that everybody's actions must comply with their own, unique system of beliefs – I have to take issue with the idea that decisions are not emotional. To say that decisions, or actions, are not emotionally based flies in the face of just about every bit of research done over the last 50 years on the brain. If the headline of this article is just your way of provoking our attention so we'll read the article, then that's fine. If you're actually saying our decisions and actions aren't emotionally based, I'd love to know where you get your support from.

    The very beliefs that you refer to are emotionally based. That's one of the reasons that people are so unique. Emotion is based in the interpretation of personal impact – that interpretation, by definition (because of where it is made in the brain) is emotional.

    Now, I completely agree that salespeople often use the term "emotional" in a pejorative, demeaning context (as you share in this post). My read as to why someone should do what I think they should do in a selling situation is as emotionally based as is the decision that I disagree with.

    People are emotional (it's what makes them so much fun). Now, they're not emotionally blind, and the brain does, in fact, have important rational components as well. Effective communication, sales and any effort on influence connects to the entire mind – both the emotional centers and the "logic/rational" centers. Our goal should be to understand and communicate to the entire mind/person.

    I often say emotions are the decision accelerator, rationale logic is the break. Effective sales addresses both.

  • Michelle Brittain

    This woman is brilliant! I agree with everything she says yet I don't disagree with Doug either. I think they are both right in their own way from their own perspective. Reading Sharon's article, one realizes that she obviously has a business background as do I. Reading Doug's comment leads me to conclude that he has a psychology background. I have no expertise here except the solitary undergrad psych course from which I gleaned only the basics in human behavior. I can see both arguements and have decided that we are simply stumbling over words. From a business point of view, I totally get it. I think the majority of the readers would get it as well. I am in direct sales, network marketing, call it what you want……it's not the easiest "thing" to sell a person on when the reputation of an industry has been sullied by ner do wells. I think that I have the "greatest thing since sliced bread," and sometimes it's like pulling teeth trying to get a person to get out of their own way to see it the way I do.

  • Doug Davidoff

    Just so there's no confusion – I'm a salesperson by background. I've been selling, running sales teams and helping companies build sales teams for 20 years. I have not formal training or study in psychology. In pursuit improving my sales capabilities and helping others improve theirs I've studied why people do what they do and that has led me to learn an awful lot about our brains and how they work. Fee free to check out my thoughts.

  • Doug Davidoff

    Just so there's no confusion – I'm a salesperson by background. I've been selling, running sales teams and helping companies build sales teams for 20 years. I have not formal training or study in psychology. In pursuit improving my sales capabilities and helping others improve theirs I've studied why people do what they do and that has led me to learn an awful lot about our brains and how they work. Fee free to check out my thoughts.