Negative self-talk can be disastrous for your persuasion attempts. Why? I’ll let the author of one of my favorite books explain:
“A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild. But whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will, bring forth. … Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping free of weeds … so may a man tend to the garden of his mind.”
Those words from philosopher James Allen in his 1902 book, As a Man Thinketh, still ring true more than 115 years later.
It’s easy enough to recognize behaviors that suggest self-doubt in persuasion situations; those thoughts lean heavily toward the negative and dwell on the conviction that your target will say “no.” Here are eight common thoughts that might run through your head:
- I will have made a fool of myself in front of everyone.
In reality: Most people are so self-absorbed that they aren’t really paying any attention to you and your career.
- Everyone will know I failed.
In reality: Some people might think, He sure is mixing things up with this proposal! I like it!
- It will be confirmation that I’m not competent.
In reality: It will be confirmation that — at that moment, on that ask, in that instance — something wasn’t quite right with the way things were.
- My colleagues will laugh at me.
In reality: Your colleagues may outwardly show signs of schadenfreude, but their internal dialogue is likely saying, I wish I would take more chances like her.
- I shouldn’t try to “rise above my station.”
In reality: Why not “rise about your station”? The entire foundation of American society is built on a Horatio Alger rags-to-riches story.
- My nemesis will get the satisfaction knowing that I failed.
In reality: Years from now, do you want to look back at your career and say, I really could have done big things, but I was worried about that unethical weasel in marketing?
- This will prove my boss was right when he said I shouldn’t try.
In reality: Your boss is insecure and probably couldn’t function without you.
- Who am I to make this request?
In reality: You are a magnificently created and sentient human being designed to reach your potential. The Greeks called it arête: living to one’s fullest potential.
Next time, we’ll analyze self-doubt. Until then, think positive thoughts.