7 Disruptive Emotions That Sabotage Your Selling

Jeb Blount

Rejection hurts. In fact, it’s one of the most painful of all human experiences. And when you choose a career in sales, you are actually signing up to seek out rejection. The best salespeople master techniques to get past the noes and keep pushing toward the yeses – but in the process, they must field a lot of emotional turmoil.

Here’s the thing: Rejection (along with its less extreme cousin, objection) triggers your fight-or-flight response, releasing a wave of disruptive emotions: fear, insecurity, doubt, and attachment. It’s all too easy to get caught up in and controlled by these emotional waves, much like a rudderless ship tossed at sea in a violent storm – pushed from wave to wave, highs and lows, at whim.

Disruptive emotions can manifest in destructive behaviors that fog focus, cloud situational awareness, cause irrational decision making, lead to misjudgments and erode confidence. This is why managing disruptive emotions is the primary meta-skill of sales. The art and science of getting past no begins with self-control – and that begins with awareness.

No matter what you sell, when you learn how to recognize and manage your emotions, you gain the power to influence the emotions of other people at that crucial inflection point when no is on the table. Let’s take a closer look at the emotions that impede your ability to get past no:


Fear is the root cause of most failures in sales. It causes you to hesitate and make excuses rather than confidently and assertively ask for what you want. Fear inhibits prospecting, leveling up to C-level prospects, getting potential objections on the table, moving to the next step, asking for the sale, negotiation, and walking away from bad deals. It clouds objectivity and breeds insecurity.


Desperation is a disruptive emotion that causes you to become needy and weak, be illogical, and make poor decisions. Desperation makes you instantly unlikeable and unattractive to other
people, thereby, in a vicious cycle, generating even more rejection. Desperation is the mother of insecurity.


Insecurity drowns confidence and assertiveness. It causes you to feel alone—as if you and only you have a big sign on your back that reads, “Reject me.” Insecurity causes you to feel as if rejection is lurking around every corner, so you become gun-shy—afraid of your own shadow.


Need for significance is a core human desire and weakness. As humans, we all have an insatiable need to be accepted and feel like we matter. Rejection naturally causes you to feel unaccepted and unimportant. Your egocentric need for significance treats rejection as a threat, thus triggering the fight-or-flight response and causing irrational behavior. The insatiable need for significance is the mother of attachment and eagerness.


Attachment causes you to become so emotionally focused on winning, getting what you want, looking good in front of others, wanting everyone to agree with you, and always being right that you lose perspective and objectivity. Attachment is the enemy of self-awareness and the genesis of delusion.


Eagerness causes you to become so focused on pleasing other people that you lose sight of your sales objectives. You give in and give up too soon. Eagerness is the shortest path to becoming the buyer’s puppet.


Worry is the downside of your brain’s vigilant crusade to keep you safe and alive. Your brain naturally focuses on the negative—what could go wrong—rather than what could go right. This, in and of itself, can trigger the fight-or-flight response and the stream of disruptive emotions that come with it—based only on the perception that something might go wrong. This leads to paralysis from analyzing every negative possibility and avoidance in the form of procrastination.

In concert or individually, these disruptive emotions can lead to dangerous confirmation bias. This human cognitive shortcut causes you to put on your rose-colored lenses and see only those things that support your delusional view of the situation (see excuses for why you missed forecast, chased an unqualified deal, failed to get past an objection, or tanked a negotiation).

As humans, we have all been that rudderless ship, helplessly rocked by out-of-control emotions. We’ve all said or done things in the moment that in retrospect we regretted. We’ve all avoided the truth. We’ve all been hit with a hard objection and then stammered and stuttered, searching for the right words in the throes of the fight-or-flight response.

It is easy to talk about managing disruptive emotions in dispassionate clichés, like “just let it roll off your back,” but it is an entirely different thing to quell your emotions and turn around an objection when everything inside you just wants to run. Intellect, rational thinking, and process drown in the sea of disruptive emotions and subconscious human instinct.

So don’t feel bad. But do seek awareness. Make the deliberate choice to monitor, evaluate, and modulate emotions so that your responses to the people and environment around you are congruent with your intentions and objectives. It’s not easy, but with the right tools and lots of practice, you can calm your inner storm, knock down the buyer’s objection, and get past no and all the way to yes.

Jeb Blount is the author of Objections: The Ultimate Guide for Mastering the Art and Science of Getting Past No. Through his global training organization, Sales Gravy, Jeb advises many of the world’s leading organizations and their executives on the impact of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills on customer-facing activities and delivers training to thousands of participants in both public and private forums.