This concept is particularly relevant in sales. A job where you’re constantly facing rejection and end-of-month or end-of-quarter pressure requires grit. You can’t bring your baggage from your morning call where a prospect shouted at you and hung up into your afternoon, unless you’re willing to let one small misfortune tank your whole day.
But it can be hard to buck yourself back up after you have a bad meeting. Luckily, a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology just might reveal a way to reliably improve your performance.
Seven researchers in the United Kingdom recruited almost 45,000 people to participate in an experiment where participants were asked to race a computer-simulated opponent in a “concentration task.”
The participants were split into three larger cohorts and prompted via videos of Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson to motivate themselves through one of three ways. Each cohort was further divided into four subgroups, each with a particular goal they were trying to achieve through Johnson’s interventions: Process, outcome, arousal-control, and instruction.
Below are the three types of interventions shown to the subjects:
Self-talk: Participants made statements to themselves such as “I can react quicker this time,” or “I can beat my best score.”
Imagery: Johnson prompted subjects to imagine themselves achieving specific performance-based goals associated with the game.
If-then planning: Participants were shown contingency plans if they ran into obstacles. For example, the “outcome” group was told: “If I can’t find the number, then I will tell myself that I can beat my best score!”
The researchers found that self-talk and imagery were more effective ways to motivate yourself. In particular, those in the self-talk group said they felt they were doing better, in addition to actually performing better than member sof the two other groups.
The takeaway for salespeople?
While no psychological study’s results can ever be 100% applicable, these results suggest that the next time you’re feeling nervous about an upcoming meeting or discouraged over one that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped, try employing some self-talk to pump yourself back up. Your performance (and mood) will thank you for it.