CAREER DEVELOPMENT / APR. 11, 2016
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Why Talking to Yourself at Work Can Help Your Career

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You would assume that people who talk to themselves are crazy, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, there is a reason why people do it and why it is crucial that you continue doing it, especially when you are at the office. Research has found that, talking to yourself can be a good thing as it helps you become more productive and boosts your performance.

See Also: Creative Ways to Take a Nap at Work

If you talk to yourself at work, there is no reason to be worried, it’s actually a good thing. A 2012 study by the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology determined that talking to yourself can boost your cognitive ability. The research attempted to assess the impact of self-directed speech on visual search performance and found that self-talk habits can help you prioritize your tasks and guide your behaviour towards completing a certain task.

This is evident throughout the development of children aged two to seven, who are essentially ‘thinking out loud’ using self-directed speech to put their thoughts in a context and help themselves carry out a task, such as tying their shoelaces. In this context, self-directed speech can help psychologists gain a better understanding of a child’s behaviour and examine their creative thought as a whole.

In the aforementioned study, examiners tested the impact of self-directed speech while volunteers were asked to search for specific items. Two groups of participants were shown pictures of 20 objects and asked to look for a specific one out of those objects. The first half was asked to look for the object repeating the name of the item out loud while the other half remained silent. As you would expect, those who used speech to self-direct themselves found the object quicker than those who didn’t. To be exact, the participants of the talking group found the item 50 to 100 faster than the non-talking group.

Another study on private (self-directed) speech asked 53 adults to complete a session of computer work (one easy and one difficult task), a repetition of the difficult task and 3 trials copying an origami model, showed that all 53 participants used self-directed speech. In fact, most participants talked to themselves during the first trial of the difficult computer task than any other task. This shows that self-directed speech is mostly used to address difficult tasks in an attempt to guide your thinking and can be described as a self-help tool.

In case you are wondering how exactly it can help you, here are some benefits of self-directed speech:

  • It helps you make difficult decisions.
  • It allows you organise your thoughts better.
  • It boosts your memory.
  • It reduces stress and anxiety.
  • It improves your attention span and concentration.

Self-directed speech can be beneficial to your work and your career as a whole through positive self-talk. Talking to yourself about yourself using the ‘you’ instead of the ‘I’ can help you create some unique words of encouragement that can motivate you to finish a task such as delivering an important presentation, or even psyching yourself up for a race. In a way, hearing yourself say what you need to do, gets you right into the game; it prepares you and helps you succeed.

It’s easier to understand the impact of self-directed speech if you think about it as your everyday pep-talk. So let’s take a look at the four types of self-talk that will help you become better at what you do:

Complimentary

This type of self-talk provides you with the compliments you need to hear. Without expecting to get these from anyone else, you offer encouragement to yourself and boost your self-worth and confidence. So reward yourself whenever you resist eating the last chocolate cookie left in the jar when you are trying to lose weight, or when you succeed in handling a difficult situation with a client.

Motivational

It might sound crazy but saying soothing words to yourself can boost your productivity and motivation to do stuff. Whenever you don’t feel like working either because you are bored or trying to get away from difficult tasks, this is the type of self-talk you need to use. Instead of forcing yourself to do some work with your demanding voice, try talking to yourself in a kinder manner. So it might be something like “Good morning beautiful, it’s time to get out of bed now if you want to finish that work report on time.” This works as a kind motivating reminder that tells you, you should get working.

Open Dialogue

Every day you are faced with a dilemma and you silently think to yourself, what decision is the best for you concentrating on the outcomes of each option. A small dilemma as to what you are having for breakfast might be helpful to understand the meaning of self-talk, so you might end up asking yourself out loud about having cereal or toast. Having an open dialogue with yourself will help you realise your wants and needs when it comes to greater and more difficult decisions. So take the time to explain to yourself out loud why you are doing what you are doing and why it is important that you do it.

Goal-setting

When you are reading motivational quotes out loud, you are more likely to believe them, to make them yours. The same can be said with private speech. Self-directed speech is crucial when setting goals because it reinforces the message you are trying to send out and gives you focus. So next time you are making a plan, guide yourself through the steps of your goal setting determining what you need to do, when and how while talking to yourself.

See Also: Stop Trying to Be Professional and Be True to Yourself

There is no doubt that self-talk has a positive influence in a variety of situations. So you should no longer worry about the fact that you mumble a few times a day while you are working, it’s perfectly natural – and not to mention incredibly useful to your work performance and career.

Have you ever been caught talking yourself? Let me know if you are one of the crazy ones in the comments section below…

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