Watch What You Say (To Yourself)

This post was written by Dan Cooney, Director of Business Development at The Latimer Group.

My boss and I were on a recent call with a friend we admire, and we were all commenting how the prior week, roughly eight weeks into the lockdown, had been emotionally challenging one for all of us. Our friend said, for him, it felt he had been sprinting through the first 300 meters of what he thought was a 400-meter race when suddenly he found out the race had been extended to some unknown distance greater than 400 meters. 

Ester Perel expressed a similar idea in a New York Times Op-Ed Video piece. She said we were suffering from the loss of a sense of a predictable future. I’m generally quite optimistic, but this idea resonated with me and simultaneously raised a red flag.  Why the red flag?

As a  communicator, your first job is self-awareness – knowing what’s going on with you and how your emotions might affect your audience. Transmitting important messages when you are in a low mood is like driving the Titanic full-speed into an ice field on a moonless night – the odds of something bad happening are pretty good.

So what to do? For me, becoming more mindful of the substantial effects of self-talk has helped me stay on an even keel in choppy waters. 

According to a paper published by the National Science Foundation in 2005, a person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. Alarmingly, 80 percent of those thoughts were negative, and 95% of the thoughts are exactly the same thoughts you had yesterday.  

Studies have shown that positive self-talk can improve performance. It can boost confidence, improve mood, sharpen focus, and reduce anxiety.

Your inner dialog, the stories that you tell yourself, can powerfully influence how capable you are at communicating effectively with others. In other words, watching what we say to ourselves is a communicator’s first principle.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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One response to “Watch What You Say (To Yourself)”

  1. John Burnham says:

    I agree with your point, Dan. The negative thoughts will occur, such as the understanding of the race as 400 meters; the question is whether we can make a practice of reframing them when they do resonate – and some of them certainly will!

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Dan Cooney

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.