Assumptions: Why Being Right Is Wrong

While researching my new book What? I discovered that when listening to others, we naturally assume we understand what’s meant and don’t question our assumption. Yet the filters our brain uses to hear what others mean to convey preclude accuracy, leading to faulty assumptions. Essentially, here’s what happens that makes accuracy so difficult (for more detail and research references read my free digital book What? Did you really say what I think I heard?):

  1. We only retain words we hear for approximately 3 seconds.
  2. On direct listening, our brain automatically and haphazardly deletes portions of what is foreign to our typical thinking.
  3. Our brain then takes what’s left over after the initial deletion and seeks an historic match (from a prior conversation our brain deems similar), and deletes whatever is divergent from that match.
  4. Our brain then takes the remainder from that deletion and filters it through our beliefs, values, filters, habits and memory.
  5. Whatever is left after deletions in steps 2, 3, 4 is what we adamantly assume we have heard.

A simple example of this just happened today. I was introduced as ‘Sharon Drew’ to a friend’s friend followed by this dialogue:

V: Hi Sharon.
SDM: Actually, my first name is Sharon Drew.
V: Oh. I don’t know anyone who calls themselves by their first name AND last name.
SDM: Neither do I.
V: But you just told me that’s how you refer to yourself!

Because a double first name was foreign to her, she put it in an accustomed category, deleting how she heard the introduction, and then wrongly assumed a typical a first name/last name configuration. She exacerbated the problem by then assuming she was right and I was wrong when I corrected her.

Assumptions Restrict Authentic Communication 

We all do this. Using conventional listening practice, it’s pretty difficult to hear what is meant without making assumptions. As a result, we end up restricting, harming, or diminishing authentic communication, and proceed to self-righteously huff and puff about what we believe is ‘right’, potentially getting the context, the outcome, the description, or the communication, wrong. Or we assume the speaker meant something they didn’t mean at all. In business it gets costly when we wrongly assume a task we were never asked to perform.

I recently got a reproaching note from an annoyed colleague when, among several faulty assumptions he made that were far, far from my intent (and in one case making an assumption about my behavior that in fact was a direct response to something he did!), I didn’t behave according to his beliefs: I had asked if he wanted to ‘preview’ my new book before it came out, and he felt my subsequent behaviors insufficient given my request that he ‘review’ the book. When I pointed out his faulty assumption he got quite bumptious until I sent him back to the original email. It cost us both a possible business collaboration.

Assumptions cost us greatly, harming relationships, business success, and health:

  • Sellers assume prospects are buyers when they ‘hear’ a ‘need’ that matches their solution and end up wasting a huge amount of time chasing prospects who will never buy;
  • Consultants assume they know what a client needs from discussions  with a few top decision makers while ignoring some of the important influencers, causing resistance to change;
  • Decision scientists assume they gather accurate data from the people that hired them and discount important data held by employees lower down the management chain, inadvertently skewering the results and making implementation difficult;
  • Doctors, layers, dentists assume foundational, standard certainties that may not be true in any unique patient/client situation and don’t get to the real issues, potentially causing harm;
  • Coaches assume clients mean something they are not really saying or skewering the focus of the conversation, ending up biasing the outcome with inappropriate questions that lead the client away from the real issues that never get resolved.

Using normal listening habits we can’t avoid making assumptions. But we can supersede our brains by taking the Observer/Coach role and listening for the metamessages – patterns, system, structure – of what is said rather than the story line or content (which is what our brains use to acquire the assumptions).


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to www.didihearyou.com to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.

The BIG Secrets of Enthusiastic Emotional Engagement.

What is engagement?

Better stated, how can you engage other people to become interested in you and your product or service? Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People) says by becoming interested in them. And he’s partially right.

The reality, and the secret of engagement is that BOTH people must be mutually engaged and mutually interested, and BOTH people must be intellectually stimulated and emotionally connected. Otherwise it’s just a conversation that will be forgotten, unless the salesperson is taking notes. #notlikely.

What is the secret ingredient of engagement?

The key to deepening a sales conversation, or any conversation for that matter, is to connect emotionally. Favorite teams, kids, college create emotion when spoken about, and the feelings and or situations are mutual.

The secret ingredient of engagement is emotion. Emotion is a key link to rapport, relaxation, and response. Emotion takes conversations deeper and becomes more open. The desire to talk and reveal becomes more intense. It pushes you to trade stories and discover similarities.

To help you get the picture of why engagement and emotional engagement are so important, and how to start the process, I am offering two examples and scenarios:

1. FIND THE LINK! What do you have in common with your prospect? That will build rapport and lead you to a sale faster than anything.

Contrary to popular belief, ‘Customer types’ don’t matter. That’s right, take your amiable, driver, tightwad analytic types and toss them in the trash. My favorite type of customer is one that has a wallet with a credit card in it. Oh wait, that’s everybody.

Here’s the challenge… If you spend 30 minutes trying to figure out what type of person you’re dealing with, and then all of a sudden discover you both like model trains – or your kids both play soccer in the same league – or you both went to the same college – or you both grew up in the same town – or you both like the same sports teams – you will most likely make the sale no matter what type of person he or she is.

Personal things ‘in common’ lead to a friendship, a relationship, and lots of sales.

2. FIND THE MEMORY! If you can find one thing about the other person, and do something creative and memorable about it – you can earn the appointment, build friendship, create smiles, and make a sale.

I was courting a big client in Milwaukee. Found out the guy liked chocolate and was a Green Bay Packer fan. The next day I sent him a Packer hat full of chocolate covered footballs. The next day I was hired. Coincidence or luck? I have no idea. I just continue to do the same type of thing as often as I can, and continue to make sales.

I was courting a big client in Seattle. Found out the guy liked baseball. Sent him a Louisville Slugger baseball bat with his name engraved on it. Needless to say I hit a home run (sorry for that).

INSIGHT: To establish the ultimate long-term relationship and to be memorable in the service you perform, you need personal information about your prospect or customer. Information that provides you with insight, understanding, and possible links. (And, oh yes, lots of sales.) The difference between making one sale and building a long-term relationship lies in your ability to get this information.

BIGGER INSIGHT: The more information you have, the better (and easier) it is to establish rapport, follow-up and have something to say, build the relationship, and gain enough comfort to make the first sale, and with consistent follow-through, many more.

BIGGEST INSIGHT: If given a choice, people will buy from those they can relate to. People they like. People they trust. This stems from things-in-common. If you have the right information, and use it to be memorable, you have a decided advantage. Or you can decide “It’s too much work, I can make the sale without it.”

This philosophy gives the advantage to someone else – your competitor.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Want to Start Making an Attitude Change? Take Attitude Actions.

I define attitude as, “The way you dedicate yourself to the way you think.” Think negative or think positive is a choice and a process. Negative is (unfortunately) an instinctive process. Positive is a learned self-discipline that must be studied and practiced every day.

To achieve a POSITIVE attitude, or as I have named it, a “YES! Attitude,” you must take physical, verbal, and mental ACTIONS. Here are a few short chunks of attitude “awareness and actions” that will help put you (or keep you) on the positive path.

1. Admit that attitude is no one’s fault but yours. The more you blame others, the less chance you have to think positive thoughts, see a positive solution, or take positive action towards solution. The opposite of blame is responsibility. Your first responsibility is to control your inner thoughts and thought directions.

2. Understand you always have (had) a choice. Attitude is a choice, and most people select from the negative column. Reason? Negative is more pervasive in society and media. It’s more natural to blame and defend than it is to admit and take responsibility. Ask any politician.

3. If you think it’s ok, it is…if you think it’s not ok, it’s not. Your thoughts direct your attitude to a path. If you think “this is crappy, why does this always happen to me?” You have chosen a negative path. If you think “WOW, this may not be the greatest, but look what I’m learning. And learning what NOT to do again.” You have chosen a positive path.

4. Invest time, don’t spend it. Ignore the media you cannot control – find a project, or make a plan to sell something, or meet with someone who buys (or teaches) instead. You will become a world-class expert in five years – the only question is: at what? Spend (invest) an hour a day working at or studying anything, and in five years you will be a world-class expert. Most people will become world-class experts at some kind of local TV news program and some kind of TV rerun. Me? I read and write while you watch TV. Business news is IMPORTANT. Who got killed or what burned down, unimportant.

5. Study the thoughts and writings of positive people. Read Napoleon Hill classic Think and Grow Rich, TWICE. Read The Power of Positive Thinking. They are priceless, timeless gems of wisdom that you can convert to your own success thoughts. The secret is to read a little each morning.

6. Attend seminars and take courses. The hardest part of taking an attitude course is FINDING one. Look at any school or university in the world and try to find ONE course in ANY of them. I’ll save you the time. The answer is (and has always been) ZERO. Find a Gitomer Certified Advisor in your city (call my friendly office for recommendations – (704) 333-1112) and take YOUR attitude course TODAY.

7. Check your language. It’s just words, but they are a reflection of how your mind sees things, and an indication of how you process thoughts.

8. Avoid confrontational and negative words. The worst ones are ‘why,’ ‘can’t,’ and ‘won’t.’

9. Say why you LIKE things and people, not why you don’t. I like my job because… I love my family because… Say things from the positive side enough and it becomes a habit you will revel in for life.

10. Help others without expectation or measuring. If you think someone ‘owes you one,’ you are counting or measuring. If you give it away freely, you don’t ever have to worry about the measurement. The world will reward you ten times over.

11. Think about your winning and losing words. Be aware of ‘loser’ phrases and expressions. Lose with: “They don’t pay me enough to…” or “That’s not my job.” If you say, “I’m not ’cause he’s not,” who loses? If you say, “Why should I…” who loses? Think ‘learn,’ ‘lessons,’ ‘experience,’ ‘help,’ and ‘solutions’ before you make a statement.

12. Think about your mood, and your mood swings. How long do you stay in a bad mood? If it’s more than 5 minutes, something’s wrong. And your attitude (and your relationships, and your results, and your success) will suffer.

13. Are you the head of the complaint department, AND the chief complainer? Many people slip into cynicism day-by-day. They become bitter because of their jealousy or envy of other people or their own misfortune. BIG MISTAKE. List the lessons you can learn from those you have bitterness for and the results will turn your thinking towards your own success and away from theirs.

14. Celebrate victory AND defeat. In my early days of selling I would go to a department store and buy myself something every time I made a sale. It made me feel GREAT! When someone told me to celebrate victory AND defeat, I started to buy myself something after I lost a sale, too. It felt GREAT. After a while I was feeling GREAT all the time. Winning and losing are part of life and apart from attitude.

15. Visit a children’s hospital. Get comfortable with the plight of others, and feel good about the minuteness of your problems compared to theirs.

15.5 Count your blessings every day. Make the list as long as you can. Start with health if you are fortunate enough to have it. Add the love of children and family. From there it’s easy to build the list.

Oh, and then there are the ‘Attitude Aha’s.’ Many (many) years ago I was riding down the road listening to a tape by Earl Nightingale (one of the founding fathers of personal development). On tape four of his legendary, but unavailable, series “Direct Line,” the topic was enthusiasm. “Enthusiasm” Earl said, “Comes from the Greek “entheos” meaning the God within.” AHA! All of a sudden all the other quotes and advice made sense. The strength of self-belief is within your own spirit, if you hunger for the feeling.

And these words are food for yours. In the words of the Jefferson Airplane rock anthem White Rabbit, “Feed your head.”

Want an instant lesson? Go out and buy a copy of “The Little Engine That Could.” Or go to your kid’s room and get the copy full of crayon marks. Read it regularly. It’s not a book for kids, it’s a philosophy for a lifetime.

Positive attitude is a self-imposed blessing. And it is my greatest hope that you discover that truth and bless yourself forever.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Don’t just drink the water, eat it!

Ask anyone in New York City why their bagels are the BEST in the world and they’ll say, “It’s the water!”

Ask anyone in Philadelphia why their cheesesteaks are the BEST in the world, and they will say, “It’s the bread.” Further questioning one will ask, “Why is the bread so different?” and they will say, “It’s the water!”

Water? Really?
Yes, water!

The unique water that’s ADDED to the standard ingredients makes the food BEST.

So I’m going to ask you two questions:
What’s in your water?
What makes your water different, better, than anyone else’s water?

There are 7.5 elements of your water that I will challenge you make you no different than anybody else’s water on the planet, and further challenge you that if you decide to improve those elements (your water), you can become the best in the world. Or at least the best in your marketplace.

1. Your attitude water. If you know and understand the classic definition of a positive attitude is, “The way you dedicate yourself to the way you think,” then it’s obvious that you can change and improve your attitude water by changing your morning routine. Wake up and start reading instead of watching TV. Reading a positive attitude book for ten minutes, highlighting, and taking notes about your thoughts, can begin a whole new attitude mindset that will separate and differentiate you from all of your peers, prospects, and customers.
2. Your belief water. While I have talked about belief for years, I’ve never said what it would take to build and strengthen your existing belief process. Invest thirty minutes of your time and make a list of the five parts of belief. You must believe you are the BEST person for the job, have the BEST business and products, that you can differentiate FROM your competitors, and that the customer is better off having purchased from you. If you don’t believe that your water is the best, how will you be able to transfer that message to anyone else?
3. Your compelling message and enthusiasm’s water. Present a compelling message and you will immediately differentiate yourself from 99.9% of all the salespeople on the planet. These are people who communicate poorly, or simply talk in terms of themselves. By becoming a prepared and enthusiastic presenter, you will be perceived as sparkling water. The opposite of sparkling water is flat water. In France it’s, “with gas” or “without gas.” Starting to get the message?
4. Your innovative ideas water. When you bring an idea to a customer it shows that you have prepared in terms of them. Your idea is about them and how they win, or how they profit. Once you get in the groove of innovation in creating ideas it will spill over to everything that you do. That’s hot water.
5. Your follow-through water. This water is the fulcrum point in the sale. Even if you have already made the sale, your customers expect both delivery and service in order to complete the sale in their mind. You will solve nothing until the customer receives your product or service, loves your product or service, and is completely impressed by the way you stay in touch and follow through.
6. Your relationship building water. Solid value-based relationships lead to repeat business and referrals. Do I need to say anything else about the importance and the value of this water?
7. Your trustworthiness water. This is slowly aged water. Trustworthiness comes from positive, favorable, consistent, truthful actions taken over time. Trust is not built in a day, it’s built day-by-day.
7.5 Your reputation water. Reputation water is the most valuable of them all. It means the rest of your water has all been given and received positively. It means that you have consistently performed to the delight of your customer. And it means that anyone can find you on the Internet and see your positive postings and results. It means that you have proven yourself to your customers and in your marketplace. You can never have too much reputation water. It’s my hope that your cup of reputation water runneth over.

BEST PART: When someone asks you why your sales are better that anyone else’s, your response can now be, “It’s the water!” – Keep ‘em guessing, baby. Keep ‘em guessing.

My water? I’m a Volvic water guy myself – switched from Fiji to France.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Two Awesome Hours

Whether we love or hate our jobs, the amount of work most of us have to do each day has reached unsustainable levels. We start a typical workday anxious about how we will get it all done, who we might let down, and which important tasks we will sacrifice-again- so we can keep our heads above water.

As we grab our first cups of coffee, we check our e-mail inboxes on our handheld devices, scanning to see who has added a new task to our to-do list. The stress builds as we read e-mail after e-mail, each containing a request that we know can’t be dealt with quickly. We mark these e-mails as unread and save them for . . . ‘later.’ We mentally add them to the piles of work left undone the night before (when we left our offices much too late). More e-mails to answer, more phone calls to return, more paperwork to fill out. And everything needs our immediate attention.

In fact, too many things need our attention before we can even get to the tasks that really matter-and too many things matter. We frequently work all day long-at the office and then at home, taking care of our families, cleaning up, paying bills-sometimes only stopping to sleep. There simply isn’t enough time, but so much always needs to be done.

The key to achieving fantastic levels of effectiveness is to work with our biology. We may all be capable of impressive feats of comprehension, motivation, emotional control, problem solving, creativity, and decision making when our biological systems are functioning optimally. But we can be terrible at those very same things when our biological systems are suboptimal. The amount of exercise and sleep we get and the food we eat can greatly influence these mental functions in the short term—even within hours. The mental functions we engage in just prior to tackling a task can also have a powerful effect on whether we accomplish that task.

Research findings from the fields of psychology and neuroscience are revealing a great deal about when and how we can set up periods of highly effective mental functioning. In this book, I’ll share in detail five deceptively simple strategies that I have found are the most successful in helping busy people create the conditions for at least two hours of incredible productivity each day:


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About the Author

Josh Davis (Photo Credit © 2013 Ron Holtz Photography)Josh Davis, Ph.D., received his bachelor¹s from Brown University and his doctorate from Columbia University. He is the director of research for the NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI), a global institute dedicated to synthesizing scientific research and guiding its use in the business and leadership fields. Davis is also a member of the faculty at Barnard College of Columbia University, a NeuroCoach, and a certified Master Practitioner in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). HE has blogged for HBR.org and Psychology Today, and his work has been reported online at CNN, CBS News, MSNBC, USA Today, and Bloomberg Businessweek.