#1621 Areté +1° #104: Levity + Gravity = Buoyancy

To Sell Is Human & the New ABCs

Hi, this is Brian.

Welcome back to another Areté +1°, one of 451 micro-chapters from the new book Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.

1,000 pages of goodness. You got one yet?

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Dan Pink tells us that To Sell Is Human.

Although only one in nine Americans is technically in sales, he says that the other eight in nine spend a ton of their time in “non-sales selling.”

In fact, the research he commissioned shows that we spend around 40% of our time (or twenty-four minutes out of every working hour!) trying to move people to do things—whether that’s pitching an idea to colleagues or trying to change someone’s behavior.

Then there’s the personal time we spend “selling”/ “moving” others—from selling our kids on a philosophical idea (“mistakes are awesome!”) or your spouse on how to optimize your nutrition (“sugar isn’t awesome!”).

In that context, he tells us we need some new ABCs of selling. As you may know, the “ABCs” of the old-school, hard-core sales approach are “Always be closing.”

That, to say the least, is not where it’s at. Now? Dan says it’s all about “Attunement + Buoyancy + Clarity.”

Here’s the super-quick look.

Attunement is basically the ability to connect with others. We get there via three things: humility, trying to figure out what the other person is thinking (this is more effective, btw, than trying to figure out what they’re feeling) and strategically mimicking their movements and words (but doing it subtly and acting like a human being without being weird about it).

Buoyancy is actually what I want to focus on today. More on that in a moment.

Then we have Clarity. We need to be able to concisely communicate the essence of our offer—finding the 1% of what really matters while asking good questions, etc.


All that to arrive at Buoyancy.

Buoyancy is how we stay afloat in the “ocean of rejection” we all feel when we try to “sell” people on our ideas and/or products, etc. Dan offers us tips to stay buoyant before, during, and after our pitch.

Before: We want to make sure our self-talk is empowering.

During: We want to keep our positivity ratios optimized. 1:1 isn’t going to do it. Nor will 2:1. Research shows that 3:1 is the sweet spot. (Note: 11:1 isn’t going to work either.)

After: We want to make sure our “explanatory styles” are rocking a la Martin Seligman’s wisdom on learned optimism.

Now, we’re ready for the point of this +1°.

You know that positivity ratio? We want to target 3:1.

Too little positivity isn’t going to work.

AND (very important and!)…

TOO MUCH positivity isn’t going to work either.

I love the way Dan frames Barbara Fredrickson’s wisdom on this: “Fredrickson sees the healthy positivity ratios… as a calibration between two competing pulls: levity and gravity. ‘Levity is that unseen force that lifts you skyward, whereas gravity is the opposing force that pulls you earthward. Unchecked levity leaves you flighty, ungrounded, and unreal. Unchecked gravity leaves you collapsed in a heap of misery,’ she writes. ‘Yet when properly combined, these two opposing forces leave you buoyant.’”

Levity + Gravity = Buoyancy.

How’s your levity?

How’s your gravity?

Here’s to your buoyancy!

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