The Dynamics of Logic and Emotion in Decisions


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A better understanding of decision-makers will lead to more productive client conversations for reps.

In the past I have written about distributor reps as decision-getters. So, to help you improve your ability to get decisions, let’s focus on helping you understand your decision-maker.

When your customer goes into decision-making mode, two considerations are influencing them:


  1. What do I know? This is the logical side of our brain calling up all the data and facts that we have that pertain to the decision at hand.


  1. How do I feel about what I know? This is the emotional side of the decision-making equation.


Each of these considerations will influence the decision-making process depending on the importance of the decision. A simple decision, like reordering a vaccine, will be dominated by the logical side of our brain, i.e., How many doses do I have on hand. How many do I use in a month?

However, a more complex decision, like switching vaccine suppliers, will be dominated by the emotional component of decision making, i.e., Am I sure this vaccine is less reactive? Am I comfortable with this manufacturer? What are my risks?

So, if you are proposing a wellness program, your customer’s logical side may be thinking about their current compliance rate and what the potential increased business impact could be on their practice. At the same time, their emotional side could be apprehensive of all the extra work involved and the failure of previous attempts. This conflict might produce inaction, and your customer avoids deciding today. Or you could use your influencing skills to help your customer reach the biggest decision they can manage at that moment.

This dynamic is constantly in play and creating decision-making attitudes inside of the customer. That is the sad news – you cannot see an attitude. The good news is that attitudes translate into actions, and that is something you can see in your customer’s body language, hear in your customers voice and correlate to their words. The following are attitudes and corresponding actions you will see and hear from your customers and prospects.


  • Apathy – indifferent to your idea. Look for these non-verbal clues – lack of interest, low energy, little or no eye contact, unresponsive, pessimistic, monotone, uncaring or the lack of any reaction at all. “Increasing my workload isn’t a priority.”
  • Troubled – always the first to complain. Look for these non-verbal clues – low energy, sighing, apologetic, tired, slow movements, sees only failures or extreme negative exaggerations. “The wellness program will just cause my inventory to increase with no real increased return on investment.”
  • Risk – trying to avoid taking a position. Look for these non-verbal clues – indecisive, unsure, hesitant, nervous, fidgety, withdrawn, shy, poor eye contact, short attention span, apprehensive or always looking to postpone deciding. “You are asking me to commit with no real guarantees. It is just too risky.”
  • Hostility – trying to stop the conversation and flow of information. Look for these non-verbal clues – raised voice, ruthless, biting, righteous, intolerant, blames, threatens, controlling or uses profanity to intimidate. “Absolutely not!”
  • Skepticism – challenging the idea on the table. Look for these non-verbal clues – expresses doubt, contests, debates, argues, forceful, aggressive, unbelieving, win/lose, yes/but, or disguised as the “devil’s advocate.” “I’m skeptical that my customers will actually commit to a long-term program.”
  • Neutral – willing to listen to you and look at your proposal. When your customer is open to your idea you will see these non-verbal clues – relaxed, amicable, polite, casual, pleasant, friendly, laid-back, and interested but not intense. “I’m open to the idea of participating in the wellness campaign.”
  • Studious – wants to study, analyze and/or review your idea. When decision-makers are reserved and in study mode, you will see these non-verbal clues – positive, pleasant, reflective, analytical, conservative, mildly interested, balancing pluses and minuses, and reserved. “There is a lot of information to digest. Let me run the numbers. Give me a call Friday.”
  • Interested – has reviewed your idea and is interested in getting more specific information. When customers are interested, they are – involved, have higher energy, questioning, good eye contact, cooperative, constructive, pay full attention, are considerate and willing to share ideas. “How does the program work? What is my investment? When do I have to decide?”
  • Enthusiastic – is beyond study and interest. They like the idea and are imagining the implementation, operation, and outcomes. They will display these non-verbal clues – smiling, laughing, high energy, faster speech, eagerness, and enthusiasm. “That sounds great. I have been looking for ways to practice more gold standard medicine.”
  • Confidence – becomes a co-owner of your idea and committed to seeing it through to completion. They will display these non-verbal clues – positive, calm, relaxed, decisive, assertive, convinced, and in complete self-control. “Let’s do it.”


Since your role is decision-getting, you want every customer to end up with a confident well-informed decision. You need to know their starting attitude and each attitudinal change along the way to develop the appropriate strategy to help them get from where they are to where they want to be.



Patrick T. Malone 

Patrick T. Malone is a business advisor and leadership mentor based in Taylors, South Carolina. He is the co-author of the best-selling business book “Cracking the Code to Leadership” and may be reached at [email protected] or 404-630-7504.


Photo credit: Zigic