How Talking to Yourself Makes You Better

Do you talk to yourself? (Did you just ask yourself that question aloud?)

When our son was still little enough to be strapped into a car seat behind me, every once in awhile he’d ask, “Mom, are you talking to me or to yourself?” It didn’t take him long to figure out that his mom talked to herself…a lot.

Some say this is a sign of being crazy and I’m not sure I can dispute that based on me as a case study. But I also know it helps in any number of ways.

Five Occasions When Talking to Yourself Boosts Results

  1. When you need to think through a decision. Some of us are talk to thinkers (explained here) and even if no one else is around to hear you, saying the words aloud can help crystallize your thoughts.
  2. Practicing tough conversations. Sure, you can run phrases in your mind, but you won’t capture tone that way. Tone has a huge impact on how your message comes across.
  3. Practicing leaving messages. You’ve received the 90 second (longer than it sounds) voice mail message. Don’t be that guy. Practice what you’ll say when you leave a voice mail so you’re quick and to the point. If you need to leave a little detail in order to make the return call efficient, that can be a good use of voice mail. But watch that the detail isn’t excessive.
  4. Walking yourself through a process. When you’re doing something complex staying focused and on task is important but the complexity can make you want to move on to something less taxing.. Talking yourself through each step will keep your brain engaged in what you are doing,
  5. Urging yourself to stop procrastinating. About that time when you move to check email just one more time before you dive into an actual high priorty task, start talking to yourself. “No. This isn’t the time to check email. Get to work on the proposal.” It’s somewhat like the angel and devil on your shoulders whispering in your ears. Stating your intention aloud spurs you to take action on the better, more productive choice.

 And One Occasion When It’s a Results Killer

Berating yourself about anything. You’re late for an appointment…again. Your desk is a wreck…again.  You binged on doughnuts on the first day of your commitment to healthy eating. You were unable to say “no” when asked to take on yet another volunteer job.

Research proves that not only does talking to yourself unkindly not improve current results, it makes it less likely that you’ll do any better the next time. So don’t beat yourself up.  Just focus on taking specific actions that will get you better results next time.

Useful? There's more where that came from.

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