Imagine you are a used-car salesperson and your family’s sole bread winner. It is the end of a difficult quarter and your employer has responded with layoffs. You are one sale away from meeting your quarter’s target – failing to meet it will get you fired.
As you are wringing your hands, an enthusiastic customer walks into the store. Given the circumstances, how well is your conversation with her likely to go?
Alas, it is too late to salvage this situation. We aren’t at our best when the stakes are too high. In this state, the amygdala – the primitive part of the brain we share with reptiles – takes over. Needless to say, it doesn’t make the best decisions for securing a sale.
This problem isn’t restricted to salespersons. If you are desperate to find a new job, you will take the next offer that you receive. If you are desperate to find an apartment in a new city, you might overpay for a rundown shack outside the city limits. To prospect is to have enough options lined up before all is lost.
Most problems don’t arise suddenly – you can usually see them coming. The key is to be alert to those signs and address them with your neo-cortex before your amygdala is forced to take over.