What You and I Don’t Know [WYSIATI]

You don’t know everything. And neither do I.

That is why scientists are so careful to term their interpretations “theories,” not “truths.”

The mind will take whatever information it has about a situation and make a story out of it. Sometimes the story has merit, and sometimes it does not.

When new data becomes available, cognitive biases (anchoring bias, for instance) can make it difficult to let go of that old story and form a new one.

That makes it tough to grow – and that is why high school reunions can be so very stressful.

The mind will take whatever information it has about a situation and make a story out of it.Click To Tweet

Even though we KNOW change is a part of life – we resist it

People change.

  • Larry is no longer the ‘awkward, tongue-tied fella who can’t get a girlfriend.’ He’s a surgeon with a beautiful wife.
  • Everyone was sure that, if anyone would, Sheila would end up as the first woman U.S. president. She’s married to a guy with a drug problem, has five children, and feels disheveled and defeated most days.

We WANT people and situations to stay true to the story we created for them.

We HATE it when one of our favorite brands moves operations overseas and begins turning out substandard products, but we keep buying and hoping things will change.

What you see is all there is

Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman identified a cognitive bias based on the mind’s tendency to act as if ‘what you see is all there is’ (WYSIATI).

For example, says Kahneman, suppose I tell you about a woman who has just been elected president of a country. I say, “She is intelligent and strong.”

Then, I ask you: “Do you think she is a good leader?”

You have a quick answer, “Yes, of course. I am always thrilled to hear whenever a woman becomes head of state.”

But what if she is also corrupt?

You see, we often form opinions (stories) based on limited data. Then – after the story has solidified – we find it difficult to change – even when additional data would indicate change to be justified.

Never forget this principle of cognitive error: Stopping to think is always more difficult than leaning on the familiar biases that serve us so well most of the time.

Stopping to think is always more difficult than leaning on the familiar biases that serve us so well most of the time.Click To Tweet

How WYSIATI can apply to sales

WYSIATI is the bias that keeps so many people uncomfortable with sales.

For example, let’s consider this scenario:

Suppose your friend tells you about a woman who sold her a service and made big promises about what this buyer could expect in return.  Suppose your friend says ‘Salespeople  … you can’t trust them. All they do is tell you what you want to hear so THEY can make a commission.”

Then your friend asks you: “Do you think there is any credit to anything a salesperson says?”

You have a quick answer, “No, not often.  I have heard too many stories of people being taken advantage of.”

But WHAT IF that is only true to the degree it is true in any profession?  You don’t have to listen to the news long to hear of someone who has been unethical in the clergy (or a policeman or a teacher).

Here again, you can see how we often form opinions (stories) based on limited data. Then, after the story has solidified, we find it difficult to change – even when new data would indicate change to be justified.

One of the things I LOVE THE MOST is helping entrepreneurs shift this bias that prevents them from being confident and enjoying the sales process.

Once that shift is made, then we can consider how WYSIATI applies to the selling process.

Just remember, every word and every mental picture counts.

Your prospect is going to form a story about you and your offer. Wise salespeople know that, so they help the potential customer form a story that will embed you in the prospect’s mind as someone who speaks the truth and is sincerely interested in being of service.

When you hold up your end of the stick — when you stay true to the story you’ve helped your prospects create — you establish relationships based on the solid ground of TRUST!

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