One of the best ways to handle a stressful situation, like a presentation, an interview, or meeting with a client, is using self-talk, believes renowned psychologist Ethan Kross. And not just any self-talk, but the correct self-talk, addressed in the third person, as if talking to a friend.
Many of us practice mantras, like “I am strong”, or “I can do it”, which is using the first person. These types of mantras are not as effective as a conversation with ourselves in the third person, or self-distancing. Kross’ research contends that people are better at dealing with others’ problems than with their own. Self-distancing can bring clarity in thinking about conflicts and concerns in various social and business situations.
Here is an example of a beneficial self-talk I have with myself on the eve of giving my career seminar.
“Larysa, what are you nervous about? It’s not the first seminar you’ve delivered. I know you like helping people, but take it slow and stay calm. Even if it doesn’t go perfectly, it won’t be the end of the world. You’re capable, intelligent, and accomplished. Just do your best and let the chips fall. Chill, Larysa”
Why is this type of self-talk the most helpful?
First I create distance by addressing myself by name, as if I were a friend.
I remind myself of my purpose – I like helping people, I like to serve. Then I tell myself to be calm.
And thirdly, I take away anxiety from the situation with a few self-affirmations. I have what it takes to deliver a great seminar and will not be upset if the seminar does not go the way I intended. Everything will be ok.
“Inner talk is one of the most effective, least-utilized tools available to master the psyche and foster life success”, says Kross.
I encourage you to write down a self-talk conversation you want to have with yourself in preparation for an important event. Make a small card with the self-talk on it, carry it with you and practice it as often as possible. Your stress level is guaranteed to go down and your success – all the way up!
Career and Business Coach and Strategist
Inspired by an article about Kross’ research in Psychology Today