NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast focuses on social science, and they recently did an episode on the “Narcissism Epidemic” our culture is experiencing. Our culture as a whole is more focused on the self. We are more individualistic than we were 50 years ago, which has broken down many of our social rules.
We have learned to focus on the good parts of ourselves. Our lives on social media are glamorous and happy. Everything is roses and unicorns. It is also blatantly dishonest.
Self-esteem is no longer earned, it is something we think ourselves into. Amazon is littered with books with the sole purpose of teaching us how to think we’re special and that we can achieve anything by simply thinking it. Which means we don’t earn high self-esteem like we once did. And it often leads to an overinflated sense of self.
You can understand how dangerous this is for a sales professional if left unmanaged.
1. Narcissism leads to you not focusing on your customer. You spend your precious client face time telling your stories and how wonderful you and your company are, versus really listening to your client’s stories so that you can hear and understand their pain points. Sometimes they don’t articulate them clearly, but you can find them when you put your ear to the ground.
2. Difficult discussions must be had if you are really aiming to become their trusted advisor. These conversations won’t be about roses and unicorns, they will be about things your customer needs to be better at. Because we are so programmed to focus on the positive, the uncomfortable becomes something we have trained ourselves to avoid. You will never become a trusted advisor and consultative salesperson if you can’t talk about the difficult issues, even when your client doesn’t want to.
3. You have to work for it. Just like self-esteem used to be earned, your sales success will never happen without action and hard work. You cannot think it into existence, which is unlike so much of what we experience in our daily lives. You’ll need to be very aware of the hard work required because you will be swimming upstream against our culture, which can be a very, very good thing.
What it takes to avoid the dangers of a narcissistic, self-culture is to be cognizant of it. Practice being aware of the pressures of the concept that you can think your way into success, and go out and achieve it with action instead.
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