How to Achieve Business Goals with Instructional Self-Talk

Correct self-talk will empower you to set and manage business goals with more clarity.

What have you been saying to yourself lately?

Instructional self-talk is the internal commentary that happens while we are trying to complete a challenging activity or task. For example, when you are completing a difficult project, your instructional self-talk might sound like, “Ok! Open PowerPoint, find a title image, create a chart on our recent sales statistics…”

This kind of self-talk actually helps us in ways researchers (1) are just beginning to understand — especially in regards to goal-setting. Correct self-talk will empower you to set and manage business goals with more clarity an help you:


1. Battle Distractions

In today’s digital world — filled with Blackberries, laptops and iPads — it is difficult to focus on a task, especially a challenging one. Instructional self-talk actually lets us focus on the basics and helps our mind block out anything happening around us. So, when you are working on a project and you only have a few hours to do it, instructional self-talk will help you get it done faster by blocking out your pinging inbox and ringing phone.


2. Make Logical Decisions

Saying tasks out loud or at least breaking down tasks mentally helps us make calculated decisions on what to do next. Instructional self-talk will help you make better decisions.

For example, think about when you are trying to decide how to tackle a project. Engaging in instructional self-talk can help you make better decisions on who to delegate specific tasks to because it ensures you are thinking through every logical step in the project.


3. Beat Out Emotions

For entrepreneurs, it’s very important to keep emotions out of business decisions. Researchers have found that instructional self-talk does exactly that: It helps you control your emotions as you move through each task.

For example, if you are thinking about hiring new employees, but are swayed by a personal friendship with a potential candidate, instructional self-talk can help you make a clear, unbiased decision.


Incorporate Instructional Self-Talk in Business

Now that you know the benefits of instructional self-talk, there are a few ways you can incorporate it into your business:

Plan ahead for the tasks you know you find the most challenging. Book into your calendar to try instructional self-talk before it is due.

Researchers found that self-talk is the most successful when thinkers first ruminate on their end goal, make a plan and then walk through it. So, try planning out what you want to do before starting.

After using instructional self-talk, reflect on how effective it was for you. Do you do better speaking out loud or does that embarrass you? Did you make a plan ahead of time or just dive in? Figure out how you want to incorporate self-talk into your routine by reflecting on what worked — and did not work — for you.

Instructional self-talk takes a little getting used to, but is worth the results!


Reference: (1) Splitting of the Mind: When the You I Talk to is Me and Needs Commands. Social Psychological and Personality Science September 1, 2012 3:549-555. A version of this guest post originally appeared on the author’s blog.

Vanessa Van Edwards specializes in social and emotional intelligence research and development. The focus of her company is to combine human behavior research and tech trends. Connect with Vanessa on Twitter.


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