Don’t Let the APE Get You!

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-by Matt Leedham

Have you ever told yourself a story? Literally, have you ever talked to yourself and told yourself a wild tale?

Letting your imagination fly and telling yourself fantastical stories isn’t just for children. Adults do it all the time. The difference is, kids usually know when they’re making stuff up!

Whether you know it or not, there are APES chasing you every day. Your assumptions, perceptions, and expectations of what is happening, is not happening, or “should” be happening form your APE.

Assumption is defined as “a thing that is assumed to be true.”
Perception is defined as “a way of understanding or interpreting something.”
Expectation is defined as “belief that something will happen or be the case.”

Let’s take a look at how an APE can attack at work:

You spend two weeks working on a sales proposal for a potential client. You’ve had a couple of pleasant interactions up to this point and your contact has been very responsive over email. When you submit the proposal, you are expecting (and wanting) immediate feedback, which would be completely reasonable based on previous response times. Instead, you hear nothing and it’s been four days.

This scenario can happen all the time to those in sales. How you respond to it can make all the difference between being successful (and happy) in your sales role, or being mediocre (and anxious) in your sales role.

It’s quite natural to expect a reasonable response time, which to you may mean in under 48 hours. It’s perfectly normal to assume that because you haven’t heard back from the potential client, that they must not be interested. Perhaps you even interpreted this response to me that your proposal was awful…that they must have hated it!

But rather than letting your mind run wild on you and creating all sorts of unwanted emotions and feelings about something you know very little about, let’s take a different approach.

If you’re going to make guesses at interpreting the situation, why not interpret positively, instead of negatively? Perhaps the potential client was SO impressed with the proposal that they immediately walked into the CEO’s office to show her your offer. Perhaps the CEO was so impressed that she pulled in the CFO to tweak the budget to find more money to buy what you’re selling. Tweaking the budget takes time – that’s the cause of the delay!

Not only is this a more fun way to approach your APE, but it also keeps you positive and engaged. With your new interpretation of the situation, how difficult will it be to call up the potential client and see what’s going on? I’d be eager to call!

Here are some questions to ponder when you find yourself being bombarded by an APE.

  • Why is this situation important to me?
  • What stories am I telling myself?
  • What actual data do I have to support that story?
  • What other explanations might there be? (Try to come up with more than one alternative)
  • What is the result I want?
  • What are my options to move forward?

Asking yourself these questions will completely reframe your thought pattern about what may or may not be going on. Don’t just stop at work. How else might this reframing help you? Relationships, personal goals, daily interactions with other people?

It is very empowering when you face the APE. It will change the way you view the world!

Believe it.

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