Throughout your career there are numerous times when you will doubt yourself. Why I am thinking about my promotion, do I deserve a promotion? If I will go and ask for my pay rise, is that funny for my boss? I have never done this type of project before, should I go for it? How would I do it? Will the audiences be attentive and listen when I speak? Am I able to manage people who are older and more experienced than me?
For over 20 years I have counseled multiple clients and on the power of positive Self-Talk. It means when you talk to yourself, your words create an image in your head. This image is directly related to your performance.
Imagine that you were asked to do a presentation to the senior management on a project you had worked on. Throughout your university degree and career, you have done your best to avoid presentations, because you think you are a failure with them.
Here you are concerned. It’s important to do and can’t leave this presentation. Imagine you’re self-talking. “I’m going to be terrible doing this presentation. The senior management teams are all going to know that I’m a terrible presenter. My future is at Risk. Oh my god why did this have to happen to me!”
This will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Presentation will be fearful and you will lose completely and mind goes blank. Then it will fill with the words like, “See, I knew I wasn’t any good at presenting and now look at what has happened! The senior management team feels that I am stupid and failure!”
When your performance matches your self-talk it re-enforces it. Directly strengthen your self-image in your head. It is now a repeated cycle of negative self-talk that is affecting your performance and is not letting your progress. So success or failure depends on your self-talk. However you need to be careful you don’t create ‘fake’ self-talk. This is the type of self-talking that even you don’t really believe in. As in the above example, ‘faking’ would be something like, “I’m going to be the best presenter the senior management team has ever experienced. I’m going to have them eating out of the palm of my hand.”
You might have this type of self-talk if you were already an accomplished presenter, but if you were coming off a low base then it would be ‘fake’ and would actually be of no help to you. (you wouldn’t really believe it yourself!).
A more effective form of self-talk is something like, “I’ll be the best presenter that I can be today. Period.” This type of self-talk is believable and gives you the opportunity to see yourself as a ‘learner’ rather than as an expert. When you see yourself as a learner and you make a mistake, it is far easier to recover than if you have ‘faked,
However, “self-talk” or talking to oneself is not enough. It must be balanced with doing the right work and focus.” Right work”, in this example relates to learning how to do an effective presentation and putting what you learn in to practice, before presenting to the senior management team.” Focus” refers to the skills and structure that support the action you are taking. In this example your focus would relate to the core message that you want to convey, the key supporting arguments that you have for your message and the call to action that you want the senior management team to adopt.
These principles of self- talk, can be applied to any situation.
If you aren’t doing the right work and you don’t have focus, then the entire positive self-talk in the world, will amount to naught.
How do YOU manage “ self -talk “?