The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

You Talking To Me?

Hey, if you’re so smart, why aren’t you talking to yourself?

You heard me. Or, you should have heard me, because your brain is a quiet zone. The only voices you ever hear come from the evil Venusian overlords who snuck into your head during the morning staff meeting and are now urgently whispering, “Greetings, earthling. Take me to your snack machine.”

If you think that talking to yourself is a sign that you have gone completely goo-goo gaga, mouse over to the Inc. website and read Jeff Haden’s recent post, “11 Phrases Intelligent People Say Every Day (and So Should You.)”

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Yes, Hayden’s title seems to suggest that you are not an intelligent person, but we will have to cut him some slack. You have been keeping your brilliance under wraps ever since ninth grade, when you lost the district spelling bee for incorrectly spelling your own name.

But don’t let that stop you. Just because you’re not the most pungent cheese on the cheese board, you can still teach yourself to think like intelligent people, who, it seems, are babbling to themselves 24/7.

And what are they saying?

“No one else is willing to do that, so that’s what I will do,” is one phrase intelligent people say to themselves every day. So, if you had doubted the wisdom of breaking into the executive conference room to hunt for Pokemon monsters, you now have permission to move ahead briskly.

“Hey, that wasn’t bad at all,” is another essential tidbit of self-expression. As Jeff Hayden writes, “Every day do something a little scary, whether physically or emotionally. Then trust that you will figure out how to overcome any problems that arise.”

It’s a lovely thought, but it isn’t true. Say you do something a little scary, like actually doing some work. If you aren’t successful, your manager may give you a bad review. Even worse, if you are successful, your manager may give you more work to do. Now, that would be hard to overcome.

Another memo-to-self is, “I will answer the question that wasn’t asked.” Hayden’s supposition here is that “sometimes people will ask a different question than the one they really want you to answer.”

This rings true. People at work may ask if this year’s summer picnic will once again feature Spam sliders, but what they are really asking is something completely different. What they want really to know is how is it possible that a nudnik like you has a job. So tell them!

“My father is the CEO.” That should answer all their questions, and then some.

“I won’t care what other people may think” are more words to the wise, and to the stupid, as well. By constantly reminding your head that “it’s my life and I’ll do what I want,” you are giving yourself permission to ignore the disapproval of your managers and the scorn of your co-workers. This is liberating. (You are also basing your entire career on a 1965 song by Eric Burden and The Animals, but what the heck. You were always a British Invasion kind of cat.)

A slightly more negative affirmation to be repeated as directed is, “I should have done better.” Author Haden writes that “we’ve all screwed up,” which may be the situation in his case, but it hardly relates to thee and me. In order to screw up, you have to actually try to accomplish something. As long as you never try to do anything, you can’t screw up, and when it comes to doing nothing, successfully, you are the champ.

“I will recognize a person who doesn’t get enough recognition,” is another phrase that should be part of your daily conversation with yourself.

“All around you are people who work hard with little or no recognition,” Hayden writes. “Vow to be the person who recognizes at least one of them every day.”

This is a considerate thought and a wonderful way to talk yourself into living a generous and positive life. It’s also easy to accomplish. Hayden points out people whose unsung service deserve appreciation, like delivery folks and supermarket baggers. True enough, but there is one person who never is thanked, but deserves a lot of praise and gratitude.

Yes, I’m talking about you.

The bottom line: The next time you are talking to yourself, throw in a few thank yous for the wonderful, spectacular person who is you. It’s a pain in the neck, and a lot of work, but, hey, you deserve it.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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