Expert Commentary

Did Your Mom Intend You To Be a Wimp?

Yielder Call Reluctance develops in people who are predisposed toward being nice—most of us—a common problem among salespeople. Thought Zapping can be used to help overcome this and other forms of Sales Call Reluctance.

Eradicating Sales Call Reluctance
July 2000

"Do you think your mom intended for you to grow up to be a wimp?"

George looked at me with that smug look I hated. He knew he was going to make a point and so did I, and I knew I would have no answer as usual. We were discussing my Yielder Call Reluctance. One more time, I was attempting to justify it to him. This time I used my good upbringing. "I was just brought up right," I had said defensively.

I was in sales and knew I had to be more assertive but was not yet willing to admit to something I felt made me look weak.

A Different Perspective

Here is a report from a young lady just starting in sales. She had just attended the Fear-Free Prospecting and Self-Promotion Workshop taught by talented instructor Bob Hilleque.

"I have really started to notice a difference this week in my actions," she said. "There have been several occasions where I have made myself go ahead with actions because I knew in the past I would not have and I'm proud to say that the world has not come to an end.

"We are currently doing some of our training at the Iowa National Guard branch. Several of us were interested in getting a tour but did not want to bother anyone. I took it upon myself to go find and tell someone that we were interested in a tour. Not only did I go and ask but I feel I was able to ask with more authority and less uneasiness.

"I think the biggest thing for me is realizing that people may not be comfortable with having to go that extra step but, in the long run, nothing horrible is going to occur. I'm making progress."

If you are in sales, imagine this scenario as a sales situation. It could be asking for an appointment, a referral, or an order.

Does This Prevent Closing?

This young lady is lucky. She found Bob at the right time in her career. In my case, it took 45 years and then I refused to accept it. If left uncontrolled, this attitude develops into a nasty habit that prevents good, hardworking salespeople from performing up to standard. It inhibits customer contact and then prevents closing from occurring.

One day, with very little else to do, I started counting the number of deals I had left on the table because I simply was afraid to ask for the order. It was not a very scientific exercise. After all, there were many that I had long forgotten. However, it was an emotional exercise in frustration and guilt. I never completed that exercise. I simply felt too ill to continue. The costs ran into the millions!

Even as I was doing the exercise, I found myself reflexively defending my past actions. Well, perhaps I was being too hard on myself—that one never would have closed anyway. I had to force myself to be objective, to stop the excuses. When I did, I came to realize that I was the victim of my own bad habits and that these habits were very expensive. Now I had a choice. I could cry or I could do something. Fortunately, I chose to do something.

Yielders: Nice Guys Gone Wrong!

In his book, The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance, George W. Dudley is definitely not flattering to us Yielders. He describes us as follows:

Afraid to incite conflict or risk losing approval, Yielders become pathetically polite. Always tentative, never decisive, they whisper through their prospecting chores, hiding like pheasants in the undergrowth.

Prospecting is contact initiation; it is an assertive act. It follows then that prospecting is troublesome for Yielders. Unwilling to appear pushy or to seem intrusive, they sacrifice their career interests to the interests of others. Afraid to bother the busy, disturb the indisposed, or interrupt the otherwise engaged, they become obstinately inactive, waiting for the "right" time, the "right" circumstances—the restoration of Eden.

I remember chuckling the first time I read this. I knew people who fit the description perfectly. It was only when I attributed some of it to myself that I took offence at his harsh criticism of us nice guys. He simply did not understand!

Yielder Call Reluctance develops in people who are predisposed to being nice-most of us! We avoid confrontation and find it extremely painful to be assertive. Our biggest problem is that we mistake assertion for aggression, and nobody wants to be aggressive, right?

To make matters worse, we learn this behavior from others who mean well. I'm not the only one who grew up with the following.

  • "Little boys should be seen and not heard."
  • "You shouldn't blow your own horn."
  • "The meek shall inherit the earth."

Guess who taught us these? In my case, it was my mother. She meant well and she brought up a good family. Where then did I go wrong? As George pointed out, "Do you think your mom intended for you to grow up to be a wimp?"

No, obviously not. Somehow, I had put a spin on the good upbringing, and the message had gotten lost in the translation. Experience reinforced the behaviors and soon I was refusing to act assertively as a matter of habit. This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you don't have to rely on other people doing things for you, such as buying whatever you're selling. You could get through life reasonably comfortably. You may feel frustrated at times but you can live with that. It's when the Yielder Call Reluctance hits your pocket book that it really hurts. Especially when you like the nicer things in life and have to settle for less.

What Can Be Done?

In my previous article, I wrote about a process called Thought Zapping. This is an extremely effective mechanical method for muscling out the fear and replacing it with a more positive feeling. Because it works so well for Yielder Call Reluctance, I will repeat the instructions here. Thought Zapping does not require understanding or even agreement. It will work if you just try it. I did and it "cured" me!

Here is a shortened version of how Thought Zapping works. (For a more detailed explanation, see the book The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance by George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson. Available from Sales Academy, Inc.)

Step 1: Select a Call Reluctance to fix. (In this case, Yielder)

Step 2: Place a rubber band on your wrist and find a quiet place to relax.

Step 3: Imagine a scene wherein you are giving into your Yielder Call Reluctance. Make this scene as vivid as possible. Feel the gut-wrenching feelings.

Step 4: Zap! Pull the rubber band back and snap your wrist just hard enough to make a loud sound and pull you out of your thoughts.

Step 5: Immediately replace the thought with something positive such as watching the CFO sign the application. Feel the feeling of pride.

Step 6: Repeat this process for 3 days, twice a day.

After this, wear the rubber band around your wrist. Each time you are attacked by your call reluctance, zap yourself. The snapping of the rubber band will immediately bring the feeling of accomplishment and muscle out the fear. This allows you to do the things you know you should.

After just a few days, simply looking at the rubber band will have the same effect and, a few days later, just thinking about it will be enough to get the same effect.

Does It Work?

One week after doing Thought Zapping, my Yielder Call Reluctance had already weakened. Imagine that! Here was a habit that had grown and strengthened over 45 years, and 1 week of Thought Zapping was killing it! After 1 week, I knew that I was going to be okay.

Has it made a difference? I am now making more money than at any time in my life before. That's nice, but do you know what is better? I am getting tremendous genuine enjoyment from it. People now accept me for who I am and not for the façade I had been putting on. I am more at peace with myself now than I have ever been.

That alone was worth the effort. Skeptical? Consider this: Until you try it, you have no right to even judge it. Now that's not Yielder talk!

Other Sales Call Reluctance articles include the following:

Article Topic
Can You Swim? Referral Aversion
Who's Afraid of the CFO? Social Self-Conscious
The Most Difficult Salesperson in the World Oppositional Reflex
The Telephone Bug Telephobia
All Dressed Up, Nowhere To Go Low Goal
Am I Adequately Prepared To Sell? Overpreparer
The Secret Shame of Selling Role Rejection
Look at All My Friends! Separationist
Appearance Is EverythingHyperpro
A Fate Worse Than Death Stage Fright
You Can't Pick Your Family Unemancipated
The Doomsayer The Doomsayer

Call Reluctance, the Fear-Free Prospecting and Self-Promotion Workshop, and all related terms are copyrights and/or registered trademarks of Behavioral Sciences Research Press, Dallas, Texas. Sales Academy, Inc., is an Advanced Authorized Dealer for the Call Reluctance® Program. Frank Lee is an international expert on Call Reluctance®. He can be reached at (800) 898-3743 or at

Opinions expressed in Expert Commentary articles are those of the author and are not necessarily held by the author's employer or IRMI. Expert Commentary articles and other IRMI Online content do not purport to provide legal, accounting, or other professional advice or opinion. If such advice is needed, consult with your attorney, accountant, or other qualified adviser.

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