Key Account Managers tend to shine when everything is going well. But it’s how we react when we’re tested—when nothing seems to be going right—that distinguishes world-class KAMs from the rest. Let’s say you lose out on an RFP or customer opportunity to a competitor. Do you shut down? Blame the customer? Blame internal team members whom you perceive didn’t bring their best work to the RFP? Berate yourself? Managing this tricky situation starts with managing yourself and your own response.

That’s right: the soft stuff. Experts have shown over and over again that it’s the soft stuff that makes the difference. According to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, our ability to manage our own emotions influences 58% of career success. That’s a pretty significant number!  Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, has similar scientifically-proven data.

So, how do we manage our emotional reactions and the unproductive thoughts—our Self-talk—that fuels them?  Here’s what to do:

  1. STOP – Pause and reflect. Resist the temptation to let your knee-jerk reaction loose—don’t beat yourself up, blame others, or fall into a negative thinking trap. Focus on the facts of what happened, rather than how you feel about it, and stay calm.
  2. CHALLENGE – After stopping your emotional response from taking over, reframe your thinking. Challenge yourself and your assumptions in order to see the situation from a different perspective.
  3. CHOOSE – Once you have considered your options, choose how you want to respond. You might still react the way you would have if you hadn’t stopped to consider the facts and alternatives. But by pausing for reflection first, you present yourself with new possibilities.
  4. CREATE A PERSONAL MANTRA – Identify a phrase you can use to override your negative self-talk and give yourself a pep talk during challenging situations. Something like “I got this” or “it’s going to be okay” works. Whatever keeps you grounded.

In summary, world-class account management starts with managing yourself—your thoughts and reactions— so they don’t manage you! With practice, self-management leads to more productive actions, better performance and stronger results.

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