What Did You Say? Why Chatter Matters

Each of us has about 50,000 thoughts each day. Most are judgments. Many are negative. All are stories. Most of them are fiction.

We find ourselves saying:
“I’m never going to get that promotion.”
“Money is not my strong suit.”
“I’m so disorganized!”

If we hear these “lies” enough, they can end up becoming truths.

Self-talk is one of the easiest ways to sabotage your business career as well as your social life, and, conversely, one of the easiest ways to boost your confidence. But positive self-talk is a learned skill that takes discipline. Face it. We’ve done the negative chatter for years and so easily fall into the pattern.

8 Tips for Positive Self-Talk
Here’s what we teach the participants in Half the Sky Leadership Institute, designed to provide women with the training that will help them rise to the top. Half the Sky is named for a visionary Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky,” chosen because the proverb values women’s and men’s roles equally. The Institute targets women in management positions who have been identified as high potential leaders.

While focusing on the four R’s that spell success: Relationships, Reputation, Results and Resilience, we teach positive self-image and self-talk. Here’s how you can apply some of these teachings to your daily business life.

1. Recognize your own negative self-talk. The first step toward change is recognition. Stop yourself whenever you think that you can’t do something or aren’t up to the challenge. Then think through the steps that would allow you to confront the challenge and succeed.

2. Take the time to rephrase the thought. Make up a new story. You’re going to get that promotion. You’re going to spend 15 minutes at the end of the day organizing your work for tomorrow. You will learn how to be good with money. You’re smart and qualified. You can do it!

3. Choose your words carefully. Here’s what you could be saying. Notice that I said, “could,” not “should.” It starts at the very basic level, with how you frame your thoughts and even your word choice. For example, one word you can eliminate from your vocabulary is “should.” Should is judgmental. But “could” expresses a similar thought with a marked difference.
Think of the difference in meaning with the following statement:
“I should work late.”
“I could work late.”
Could implies choice. Isn’t choice the bottom-line? You choose your life. Choose a positive one.

4. Use self-talk to build relationships. Compliment yourself each time you expand your network with a new contact that can help propel you to success.

5. Use self-talk to build leadership skills. What kind of a leader do you want to be? Choose. Emphasize those attributes in your self-talk.

6. Be the change you want to see in yourself. It’s a popular saying because it’s true, but change is easier to say than to do. Self-talk is a good first step toward real substantive change. Say it, believe it, and you can pave the way toward action.

7. Everyone messes up sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t dwell on the negative. Refocus your thoughts—and your self-talk—on how you’ll prevent something similar in the future. Acknowledge that you have dealt with the mistake. Then move on. Mistakes are just lessons.

8. Start and end your day with a positive affirmation. Choose something in your business life to celebrate. Affirm your contribution with self-talk.