Thought Zapping

By Malcolm Fleschner

At its core, call reluctance most often stems from self-defeating, destructive, negative thought patterns. Instead of expending time and effort on selling, many salespeople put that energy into psyching themselves up just to pick up the phone. What’s left for the customer? Precious little. In The Psychology of Call Reluctance (Behavioral Science Research Press, 1999) George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson suggest a unique strategy, which they refer to as “Thought Zapping,” for overcoming call reluctance.

The premise behind Thought Zapping is straightforward: Weaken the link between negative thoughts and the unpleasant feelings they invoke and replace those thoughts with a more productive attitude.

How It Works
On a piece of paper, create two columns, one titled “Negative Thoughts” and the other “Emotional Reactions.” Take this piece of paper with you to work. Every time you prepare to prospect or make prospecting calls, list the negative thoughts that arise and the accompanying emotional responses you feel. Examples of negative thoughts include worrying about having the right documentation for a presentation, concern about being asked a question you can’t answer, fear of being late to an appointment, etc. Possible emotional reactions include muscle tension, dread, agitation, compulsive behavior, etc.

Next, take another sheet, date it and title it “Frequency of Intrusion Chart: Pre.” For one of your negative thoughts above, monitor the number of times that thought comes to mind during an eight-hour period.

Now you’re ready to start zapping.

1. Place a loose-fitting rubber band around your left wrist

2. Sit in a comfortable chair with your eyes closed

3. Consider the negative thought. Whenever you become aware of the thought, do the following:
– Imagine the sky as one giant stop sign.
– Imagine yourself yelling, “Stop it!” as loud as possible.
– Snap yourself with the rubber band hard enough so that it stings.
– Immediately consider a situation from memory where you felt good about yourself. Reexperience those good feelings.
-Try to reconsider the negative thoughts. You will likely have difficulty doing so; you will instead be thinking about the rubber band, while the positive feelings come to dominate.

Continue to wear the rubber band. Go through the same routine whenever that negative thought crops up. Create another chart, this one titled “Frequency of Intrusion Chart: Post” and monitor how often that negative thought intrudes. After two or three days you may remove the rubber band, as your memory of the sting will suffice. Soon the negative thought should be weakened in your mind as a new habit of thought and feeling is created.

Dudley and Goodson are not only advocates of Thought Zapping – they’re also active participants in the practice. In fact, if you send the publishers a stamped, self-addressed envelope they will provide a free “Official Thought Zapper” rubber band to you. Talk about taking the sting out of call reluctance – they put it on your wrist instead! For more information write Behavioral Sciences Research Press, 12803 Demetra Dr., Ste. 100, Dallas, TX 75234 or visit

Click here to learn more valuable tips for sales success.