The average person has between 50,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day, and an alarming 80% of them are negative, according to Rochelle Carrington who spoke at last week’s EcSell Institute sales coaching summit. Rochelle spent over two decades in sales and sales management, and now works in training other sales professionals how to become more effective. During her career, she continually saw the impact that both negative and positive self-talk can have on the performance of a sales team.
According to Rochelle, about 90% of our happiness is predicted by how we process the world, while only 10% is predicted by our surroundings. Simply stated, how we think and talk to ourselves has a huge impact on how effective we are. And while we all have natural tendencies in terms of the positivity of our thoughts, we also have the ability to exert more control over them. Rochelle shared with our summit attendees six steps to dramatically increasing our positive self-talk and, in turn, our performance.
Step one is to develop an acute self-awareness. Many people consider themselves to be a “positive person” until they really pay attention to their self-talk. Consider the statements you make to yourself throughout the day. Do you think in terms of what you haven’t done or what you can accomplish? Do you talk to yourself more about areas where you’ve fallen short or where you’ve excelled? When you pay attention to what you say to yourself over and over, you will have a better sense of the positivity or negativity of your self-talk.
Step two is to find your triggers. That is, look for the recurring words or phrases that others say that move you immediately into a negative mindset. For example, does somebody questioning you about your decision-making make you feel automatically defensive? Does somebody telling you to “just do it” make you feel like you’re lazy? Once you know the words or phrases that trigger you, you can better manage them. The best technique is to simply expose yourself to those words and phrases over and over again until they lose their emotional impact.
Step three is to learn a new language. Rather than phrasing things in terms of what you don’t have, phrase it in terms of what you do. For example, turn “I’m worried that I don’t have time to do everything on my to do list” into “I’m glad I have time to do the most important things I need to do right now.” By learning to re-phrase our worries and negative thoughts, we can re-frame whether we view them as an obstacle or an opportunity.
Step four is to create intentional thinking. By purposefully feeding your mind healthy thoughts, you can change your subconscious dialogue. One technique is to state things that you want to happen as if they already have happened. For example, rather than thinking “I’m worried my presentation is going to be a disaster,” think “my presentation was excellent and I booked the business.” Your subconscious mind doesn’t know that the event you’re worried about hasn’t happened yet. So you can actually “trick” your subconscious mind into thinking you’ve already reached a positive outcome, thereby lessening your worry.
Step five is to employ positive tactics. By purposely steep yourself in gratitude, you can train yourself to see the good you have in your life, rather than where you are lacking. Some specific positive tactics are: pivoting (intentionally re-focusing your energy on something positive when things go wrong), keeping a success journal (writing down what you did well and the things going well in your life) and listening to your inner GPS (intentionally focusing your thoughts on what you want and where you want to go, rather than your challenges).
Step six is to fill the gaps with practiced discipline. Stated simply, you need to intentionally focus on the above steps over and over, rather than letting old habits and negative thoughts take over. If you want to change your self-talk, you have to be intentional about it. Consciously follow these above steps and over time, you will see a change in your self-talk, and ultimately, a change in your ability to achieve your goals.
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