We humans talk to ourselves so much that in a conversation it would be about 4,000 words pronounced aloud per minute, explains Ethan Kross. Kross is a 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”. The inner voice and the ability to speak to oneself was an important part of evolutionary development and distinguishes humans from other living beings. “Chatter”, according to Kross, is the negative manifestation of the inner voice. “When we experience internal chatter, it attracts our attention. However, we only have so much attention that we can usually only focus on one thing, ”says Kross. For bosses and founders of smaller companies, such negative thoughts can therefore be paralyzing and prevent them from running their company in the best possible way.
“What I find so interesting about internal talk is that it takes place universally – we all have the ability that negative things get stuck in our heads and these can have negative effects,” explains Kross. If you, as the boss, pay too much attention to such negative thoughts, it could lead to over-analyzing decisions. Or the thoughts could develop into a fear and affect your daily tasks. Either way, negative thoughts keep you from making decisions in the here and now – they leave you stuck and inoperable. It can also have an impact on the way you deal with colleagues. “If we experience such negative thoughts more and more, an anger towards others could develop. We experience more social friction, ”said Kross.
The solution to silencing the internal chatter varies greatly from person to person. Nevertheless, Kross has a few tricks to better control the negative voices:
1. Keep the distance
Imagine that the chatter in your head was a third person by your name that you address as “you”. In this way you can gain distance and distance yourself with the “problem”. Researchers have found that this approach leads to less “overthinking” and aids in better decision-making.
2. Take a new perspective
If you are faced with a difficult decision in your company, take a step back and take a new perspective. See it as a challenge that your company has to overcome. Find creative ways to solve the task. So you could face less stress, which at the same time leads to less internal chatter.
3. Create order in your environment
“When we experience internal chatter, we often feel that we are losing control. Thoughts spiral and control us. If that happens, you can regain control by creating order in your environment, ”writes Kross in his book. This doesn’t just mean tidying up. It can also be organizing tasks with a to-do list or writing down your thoughts in a journal.
Kross also recommends minimizing unnecessary use of social media. Use social media more as a networking platform and gain insights into the lives of others who are struggling with the same challenges.
5. Experience nature
Science shows that nature works like a cure and relaxes your brain. In this way, negative thoughts can also be sorted and challenges can be solved with a fresh and relaxed attitude.
As an employer, you should remember that your employees can also be confronted with internal chatter. Kross recommends that you as the boss should share your own experiences with the team and thus convey empathy. In this way, you and your team can become more functional and make decisions unaffected and effectively.
This article was translated from English and edited by Siw Inken Forke. You can find the original here.