“Cognitive distortions” is a fancy way of describing the way we twist reality in our own minds. Below are five examples of cognitive distortions that prove problematic for people seeking to improve their persuasion skills:
1. You take one event or incident and apply it globally to any given situation. For example, you make one mistake in a presentation and now tell yourself that you’re a terrible public speaker.
2. You listen to your pathological critic. That critic might be using absolute terminology such as “always,” “every” and “everybody” and “never,” “none” and “nobody.” It’s easy to fall prey to consistent thoughts containing words like those.
3. Your mind is trained to only see and hear certain things. And those things are typically negative: a critique, a look of displeasure, an injustice.
4. You focus too much on your external critics. Madonna once stated that there was a period in her career when all she could perceive was the negative. She’d perform a killer show, with the crowd on its feet all night, but Madonna’s eyes would always find the handful of people who looked like they weren’t having the time of their lives. And that’s, unfortunately, where her focus would lie.
5. You dwell on complaints. For example, although the majority of respondents to a user survey might appear to have gone out of their way to be complimentary about your company’s products, services and customer relations, the few complaints are the ones you can’t stop thinking about.
Sure, it makes sound business sense to be aware of the negatives and evaluate how you can do better. But concentrating the majority of your energy on them without celebrating your accomplishments can seriously derail the self-esteem train.
So this week, focus on the positive and see if you a notice a shift in your persuasive effectiveness.