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How leaders can transform internal “chatter” to a positive

Posted by Shivali Anand

July 29, 2021    |     4-minute read (708 words)

Every minute of the day, human beings have private thoughts that run in an unending cycle. These unshared views, expectations, ideas, attitudes and the like occupy many of us. This mental monologue, often known as self-talk or "inner chatter," is generally unpleasant and personal.

Humans have struggled with the phenomena of the "inner voice" since ancient times, according to Ethan Kross, a psychology and management professor at the University of Michigan and author of the book "Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It." This mental monologue frequently devolves into chatter or recurrent unpleasant thoughts and emotions that can manifest in various ways.

A rambling private monologue, a discussion with yourself or a reflection on previous events are all examples of chatter. It can also be experienced as a tortured picture of future events, a fixation on a terrible sensation or incident, or just bouncing between negative thoughts and feelings.

Chatter can hold negative repercussions, such as encouraging us to be more aggressive or silently undermining us. According to Kross, who is also the head of the University of Michigan's Emotion & Self Control Laboratory, our lack of self-control and emotions of doubt are what fuel the talk. 

Entrepreneurs and small business owners, like everyone else, may be subjected to a barrage of information that could limit their potential, undermine their confidence and obstruct their success. This negative internal dialogue can hinder their ability to operate and run their firm.

If you're concerned with chatter as a leader, you could feel trapped, lose concentration and postpone making essential business decisions. As a result, your employees' performance may suffer, and your firm may suffer. However, according to Kross, negative talk may be converted into a positive force by using a few techniques detailed below.


When you're dealing with chatter, take a step back and consider the thoughts from a new angle. What suggestion would you provide to a friend who is in a similar situation? Implement the same rules to yourself and observe what a difference you can make.

Rethink your body's reactions

When you're nervous before an event, your body may exhibit various symptoms, such as an unsettled stomach or sweaty hands resulting from your internal monologue. Many people also notice that they feel irritated when there is a lot of talk leading up to a big event. The solution is to push yourself to acknowledge that stress is a healthy response that may actually help you perform better under pressure. 

According to Kross, doing so will give you direct control over your physiological response. Palpitations, difficulty breathing and sweating will no longer be regarded as negative symptoms. They will instead assist you in responding positively to a stressful circumstance.


Broaden your horizons

It may also be beneficial to engage in mental time travel. Consider how you'll feel in a day, a month, a year, a decade or even a couple of decades. This broadens your perspective. Keep reminding yourself that you'll come back to the thoughts that are bothering you later, and they'll appear to be less bothersome in the process. This emphasizes the fleeting nature of your current emotional state.



 According to Kross, when individuals encounter chatter, their thoughts spin out of control and threaten to drag them into a web of pessimism. You may believe you do not have control over your thoughts. It is critical to maintain a feeling of order under such circumstances. Keeping a calendar can help with this. The mere action of penning down and prioritizing your daily meetings, cleaning your kitchen or any other simple act that adds order to your life will improve your spirits and give you a greater sense of control.


Limit use of social media

 Doomscrolling and doomsurfing, popular terms for consuming large amounts of unpleasant internet content in a single sitting, can be harmful to your mental health. Instead of passively browsing through stuff, Kross suggests embracing social media as a networking tool. It can help you to get insights or meet individuals who are struggling with a similar issue. This approach aligns with Kross' more comprehensive framework of suggestions for controlling chatter, which includes "figuring out how to do it more successfully'' rather than "stopping self-talk."

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