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Optimists are Motivated

Psychologist Martin Segilman of the University of Pennsylvania advised the MetLife insurance company to hire a special groups of job applicants who tested high on optimism, although they had failed the normal aptitude test. Compared with salesmen who passed the aptitude test but scored high in pessimism, this group made 21 percent more sales in their first year and 57 percent more in their second. A pessimist is likely to interpret rejection as meaning “I’m a failure; I’ll never make a sale.” Optimists tell themselves, “I’m using the wrong approach,” or “That customer was in a bad mood.” By blaming failure on the situation, not themselves, optimists are motivated to make that next call.

What’s Your Emotional I.Q.?, Reader’s Digest, January, 1996, from Emotional Intelligence, 1995, by Daniel Goleman, Bantam Books