How Talking to Yourself Can Boost Productivity

Original Post by Dennis Collins

Is talking to yourself a sign you’re bananas?main-qimg-84314467a454d7b640289021f174771b

No. But it’s a habit that can help you find a picture of one more quickly.

People Who Talk to Themselves Found to be More Productive

In an experiment published in 2012 by the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, professors Gary Lupyan and Daniel Swingley asked volunteers to find a picture of a banana among a pile of photos of various objects. Half were told to repeat the word “banana” aloud while searching, and the other half were instructed to remain silent during the process. Those who were talking to themselves outloud found the banana a bit faster than those who didn’t, the researchers reported.

So, as journalist Tim Newcomb wrote when he covered the study for, “Let’s all stop judging people who talk to themselves.” Because, as the science suggests, those of us who make our inner monologues audible may have an edge staying on task, remaining focused and improving perception capabilities. In other words, serving as our own audience may help us be more productive.

Benefits of Talking to Yourself – Professional & Personal

That’s great reassurance as more and more of us work remotely more often – and by ourselves.  In fact, we believe self-discourse can serve as a productive method for remote workers to make the most of our conferencing and collaboration tools. Taking time to talk to yourself before interacting by phone, online or via video with colleagues and customers may increase the impact or influence of your contribution. 

When we’re filling the air with our own voices – whether in home offices, hotel rooms or quiet corners in coffee shops – we’re not losing our grip on reality, we’re gaining command of our thinking. In fact, in a post for PsychCentral, psychologist and “success coach” Dr. Linda Sapadin claims that self-talk can help us set goals, motivate action and enhance creativity. “It helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what’s important and firm up any decisions you’re contemplating,” she writes.

In her piece “9 Surprising Benefits of Talking to Yourself” for Rewire Me, book editor Linda Carbone emphasizes subliminal aspects of the technique. “Talking out loud is a great way for your conscious brain to communicate with your subconscious,” she opines. “It makes us wiser, calmer, and more motivated.”

5 Times to Talk to Yourself in Business Situations

While holding long, intence conversations with oneself will seem starnge in certain circumstances, there are professional benefits to self-talk. Talking to yourself will help you navigate and more productively handle these five business scenarios.

1. Assembling Optimal Updates

Most of us will rehearse a presentation, whether we plan to deliver it in-person or over the web. But how many of us talk out bullet points for a weekly update session? Not only can covering your items out loud by yourself before sharing them with others tighten your delivery, it can give you a sense of other factors that make a report more digestible to others. For example, how much detail is too much? If you’re having trouble wedging sentences into your allotted time slot, then trimming some information from your list is a wise move before dialing or logging in.

2. Doing Your Homework

For some meetings, we may not be able to predict or prep in depth for every topic that could arise for consideration. So, we review as much background as time allows. But silent reading alone may not be enough to fix ideas in our minds in short order. Educators know talking themselves through tasks helps children learn. By the same principle, telling yourself your own observations and conclusions can accelerate recall in later discussions.

3. Deliberating Difficult Decisions

In the same way self-talk can streamline a set of bullet points, some self-debate can weed out tangential issues and balance pros and cons. There’s a reason the Supreme Court of the United States holds oral arguments before rendering a decision. Articulating analysis aloud before delivering live commentary can foster brevity, lend clarity and infuse energy.

4. Bracing for Tough Talks

As we note in our recent post “How to Use Business Failures to Build Success,” frustrating moments when projects don’t meet objectives are inevitable, which means communicating mistakes, missteps and missed opportunities is unavoidable. A little self-talk can sooth nerves before addressing your own gaffes and calm irritation before confronting another’s errors.

5. Amping Up for Peak Performance

In another previous post, we explained how posture can contribute to confidence before heading into an important business interaction, such as a meeting with the boss or a sales pitch to a big customer. Giving yourself a pep talk can have a similar effect. Hearing an enthusiastic “You got this!” can be a tremendous boost – even if you do say so yourself.

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