In this busy, cluttered and complex world the ability to make good judgements is becoming increasingly important. That is why I have been encouraging myself and others to cultivate the quality of Discernment.

What is discernment?

Discernment is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure[1]. It comes from from Old French discerner (13c.) “distinguish (between), separate” (by sifting), and directly from Latin discernere “to separate, set apart, divide, distribute; distinguish, perceive,” from dis- “off, away” (see dis-) + cernere “distinguish, separate, sift” (see crisis)[2].

‘Applying the wisdom of our intuition to discover what is essential and true, with contemplative vigilance. Clarity of the soul.’

These definitions are useful as a guide for both our personal and professional lives.

When in a sales role, cultivating discernment allows us to properly assess a prospective business situation, understanding what the buyer wants to achieve and then being able to assess whether what we have to offer and what the buyer is looking to achieve are a good match for current and future dealings.

Not all business is good business, not all deals will result in a fair exchange of value, and not all buyers want the best for both them and us in these interactions. On the other hand, what may seem like a remote or outside opportunity could, on closer inspection and investigation, be a real gold mine that offers long term sustainable business dealings with great clients.

guide the buyer to the destination

the cultivation of discernment

Given business and market situations there may be times that you may decide to give away certain short term gains in order to achieve a longer term goal or mitigate risk for the overall business. Or you may hold your ground to ensure the integrity of what you offer is not eroded by ‘cheap’ quick deals. At other times you may hold back in launching a product to get the right traction or release something not fully formed to see how it goes and whether it flies.

All of these decisions improve with the cultivation of discernment.

Instead of leaping in and taking things at face value, we consider for a moment at least the value of what we are doing. We can refer to our sales strategy for guidance, we review our market segmentation plans to check that we are deploying the right tactics, we consider the market information and current trends in which we find ourselves along with our intuition, values and integrity and then we weigh these and other elements up against our client or prospect’s priorities to discern if we have a viable opportunity that we want to pursue.

Doing  good, honourable and sustainable business requires that we show and cultivate our discernment.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett,