Another exciting and profitable week was drawing to a close as I climbed aboard the 8:45 p.m. Delta flight bound from Atlanta to my hometown of Daytona Beach, Fla.
I buckled into my window seat and soon began collecting thoughts for another article I was writing on the subject of professional selling, in particular, the common occurrence of call reluctance.
It seemed like I had just begun, when my rumination was interrupted by the flight attendant as she announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign indicating our initial descent into the Daytona Beach airport.”
While the crew picked up the remaining cups and glasses, I watched as the young lady seated next to me struggled to push her backpack into its secured position under the seat in front of her. During most of the one-hour flight she had barely said a word and kept herself occupied doing crossword puzzles and listening to what I presumed to be one of her favorite CDs. As we began our descent I “broke the ice,” asking if she was heading to Florida for spring break.
Volunteering that she was in her second year of high school, she further told me she was coming to visit her aunt who lived in Daytona Beach. She had heard intriguing stories about the beach community and, as this was her first trip to Florida, she was anxious to investigate first-hand.
For the remainder of our flight, she came out of her shell, so to speak, as we talked about fun things to do, sights to see and where to get the best deals on T-shirts and various souvenirs for her teenage friends back home. By the time the wheels of our MD80 touched the ground and we began taxiing to the terminal, I was enjoying a lively conversation with my new acquaintance.
As we parked at the gate the cabin lights went up and the bell rang once, indicating it was safe to rise and gather our belongings. As everyone packed the aisle and began retrieving their carry-ons from the overhead compartments, a voice two rows back called out, “Be sure you have all your things, Pumpkin!” Whirling immediately in the direction of her mothers voice, the young lady shot back, “Dont call me Pumpkin on the plane!”
Startled by the outburst and the sudden metamorphosis that had taken place in my new friend, I wondered if this scenario had anything to do with call reluctance. The answer? You bet it did!
To make the connection to call reluctance and use this situation to our advantage, we must turn for a moment to psychologists who tell us, as human beings grow, they build within them five basic fears. All of these fears are associated with various types of loss. The fear of losing a loved one, fear of losing our possessions, fear of losing our health, fear of losing our life and, the strongest fear of all, the fear of losing face, or being “put on the spot,” ridiculed, turned down, and embarrassed.
As my young airplane friend engaged in “adult” conversation with me, she began to let her fa?ade down, becoming more open, comfortable and free with her verbal involvement. While we greatly enjoyed our short discussion, it was clearly evident she would not have been the first to initiate our fun, rewarding exchange.
What held her back? Could the fear of losing face, looking foolish have been at work? If she were seated alongside her high-school pals, I am confident she would have been greatly conversant because she would have been in her “comfort zone.”