The good news is that attaining high self-esteem, solid self-efficacy and weapons-grade self-confidence does exactly the opposite. It enables you to solve problems rather than worry about them, find ways to win people over, and work directly and purposefully to address interpersonal issues.
Many of the following ideas could fall under a category of psychology referred to as cognitive therapy. That is, participating in activities, exercises and conversations that improve your “self-talk” or ongoing internal dialogue, and therefore impacting everything from your emotional state to your persuasive performance. For some, this is the purview of incense-burning, beard-wearing types who wouldn’t be caught dead without their yoga mats. If you can break through that bias, though, you’ll discover that it’s powerful stuff.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University studied 240 depressed patients who were randomly placed in groups. Some received anti-depressant medication, others participated in cognitive therapy, and still others received a placebo. After 16 weeks, both the anti-depressant group and the cognitive therapy group had improved at about the same rate. The real difference was that the cognitive therapy group was found less likely to relapse during the two years following therapy. Why? They had acquired the skills and behaviors to think more positively.
This example illustrates the key to becoming more resilient. Just like the body needs air, nutrition and regular exercise, your mind needs a fitness regimen, too. You must regularly stretch, feed, work, coach and rest your mind, so consider what follows as your all-access, lifetime membership to Mark’s Self-Persuasion World Gym.
1. Be cognitively aware of your internal dialogue.
When you make a mistake and find yourself thinking, “I always mess up!” or “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid,” hit “stop.” Don’t keep running the video clip on a loop in your head. Stop and reframe your negative thoughts.
2. Reframe negative thoughts.
Don’t scold. Fix. You don’t always mess up. It’s not that you’ll never get anything right. You did land the job in the first place. And you’ve done many things well and achieved success. You simply have some aspect of a project or relationship that is giving you a hard time. Break it down and troubleshoot. Maybe it’s not the entire board presentation that’s giving you fits; it’s only the intro or anticipating resistance. Identify and fix. If you don’t currently possess the skills to make a fix, acquire them. If you don’t have the information you need, find the data.
3. Use success ranges.
Don’t turn every situation into an all-or-nothing case. In other words, don’t enter every client meeting thinking you need to come out with new business or else it wasn’t a successful meeting.
4. Understand the physical side of self-persuasion.
Get enough sleep and rest, because “fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Williams Shakespeare said that first, but U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton and football coach Vince Lombardi also picked up on it. Regardless, it still rings true today. Without enough rest, you won’t be able to form your arguments, look your best and articulate your positions to the best of your abilities. Ask me how I know: I’ve worked myself into a state of almost mental incoherence, and subsequently lost business.
5. Too much caffeine hurts your persuasion attempts.
Caffeine makes you seem nervous and uncertain, even if you don’t have a visible case of the jitters. So much for oozing self-confidence. You might, however, want to hope that your target has downed a few cups of coffee or cans of Mountain Dew. Australian researchers several years ago determined that people who drank two cups of strong coffee were much more easily swayed to change their minds than test subjects who were given a placebo instead.
Look for more self-persuasion tips next time.