Self-talk. What is it?

Self-talk are the messages we tell ourselves that build ourselves up or tear ourselves down. What we say to ourselves impacts our personal and professional development in so many ways.  One could argue that every one of us tells ourselves a story. How we lead our lives after these messages does impact our lives in different ways.

What matters are the stories we choose to retell, relive, and reiterate every single day. Maybe you think it does not matter. Perhaps you think self-talk does not have an effect on you.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. The most powerful, altering words we ever hear are the ones we continue to tell. 

Self-Talk: How Do You See Yourself?

Derek Alexander, the protagonist in our soon to be published book, Becoming TIGERS – Leading Your Team to Success, told himself that the employees he supervised and project teams he led were the problem. They were lazy, incompetent and incapable of performing excellent work.

Then, he learns from his boss in a documented performance evaluation, that people are quitting the company because he is a terrible boss. Derek has the weekend to determine how he plans to improve his leadership in order to save his job. What does he discover?  You will have to wait and see.  The bottom line, however, is that Derek’s self-talk misled him.

When it comes to self-talk, it is important to understand that humans are not objective. If something happens to you, most of the time you will support your value, the way you see yourself living and strive to associate with.

For example, if your idea of yourself is that you are not a loud person, how does this impact your behavior? Perhaps you will choose anything over participating in a noisy argument or speaking up for yourself in a difficult situation. This does not serve you.

If you are the person who refuses to be taken advantage of, maybe you will assert yourself in every situation or always read into what other people ask of you. Those suspicions will then cloud your behavior and how you respond. Although both of these narratives can be positive, they can also be negative when not grounded in reality.

What, then, is the story you tell yourself and others?

Self-Talk: Professional Development 

Recently, the CEB conducted leadership research and reported that 60% of all new managers fail within the first 24 months. One reason given for why these managers fail is because they were not properly trained or do not know how to be an effective leader after the training. The morale is that there is a big difference between learning how to do something and actually doing it.

Want to be an effective leader? What you tell yourself matters. Next, what you tell yourself is anchored emotionally in ways that connect to deeper self-talk and self-esteem issues. This means that how you respond to the employees you lead comes with an extra punch.

For example, as you are stuck in morning rush hour traffic, do you catch yourself wondering why all your employees act sullen around you? Or, do you wonder why everyone stops happily chatting whenever you stop by the break room to grab another cup of coffee? You will either find yourself contemplating something that supports your victimhood or perhaps you will have the courage to test those assumptions.

Both of these examples illustrate negative self-talk narratives. These are stories of how you see yourself and how you believe others perceive you. While a narrative could be pointing out a gut feeling you have that something is truly wrong, it could also be pointing out a self-esteem issue that you need to fix.

Care to dig deeper into the topic of self-talk?

Here are some additional references:

Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

Project Team CultureAbout TIGERS Success Series, Inc.

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