One of the most impactful speeches of all time is Steve Jobs’ commencement address to the Stanford class of 2005. During his speech, he delivered this powerful line:
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.”
During every moment of every day, we carry on an inner dialogue that guides our actions and shapes how we see the world around us.
Scientists from the Netherlands conducted a study on the inner voice. They watched women struggling with anorexia walk through doorways in a lab. They noticed that the women physically turned their shoulders sideways to squeeze through the doors, even though they had plenty of room. They concluded that the inner voices of these women were so strong that their internal representations of themselves determined their body’s movements. Their inner voice told them what they were, and they behaved based on those voices even though the reality was completely different.
In other words, their inner voice dictated their actions.
Your inner voice is a powerful tool that will lead you to your goals, but sometimes the opinions of others can become louder. We’ve all worried about the opinions of others at one point or another. Maybe you’ve fallen victim to the opinions of your prospects or your coworkers. But if we listen to those opinions instead of our voice, we’re quickly misled from the path toward our goals.
Your inner voice is so powerful that it can trigger brain activity. If you’re told to visualize something, the parts of your brain associated with vision light up. Just the same, your inner voice can also trigger negative reactions. Researchers recently discovered something called the nocebo effect. The placebo effect is when you’re given a sugar pill, told it has positive effects, and suddenly you start to feel better. The nocebo effect is the opposite; give someone a sugar pill but tell them about the negative side effects instead of the positive.
Guess what happens? They start exhibiting those negative side effects. Their self-talk is reinforcing the negative input from the outside. If you’re told that a negative side effect of surgery is pain in a certain area, then you are clinically more likely to feel pain in that area.
You need to unplug yourself from the problem before it becomes a full-fledged leash. When you unplug from something, you mentally remove yourself from damaging outside opinions you want to avoid and plug into the beneficial inner voice that counters those negative, outside thoughts or beliefs.
I want you to imagine a scenario. You’re about to hop on a sales call with a decision-maker. You’re nervous, but you know this is a chance to close a major account. Before the call, you’re milling around in the break room and a coworker says to you, “Man, I’m glad I’m not making that call. That guy rips apart everyone he talks to. I’ve heard selling that guy is impossible.”
How might you react to that? You might shrug it off on the outside, but mentally your brain starts going haywire. Your inner voice starts to panic and now you’re doubting yourself, your selling process, and everything in between. You’re saying things to yourself like, “There’s no way I can do this,” and, “I might as well not even make the call.” That bleeds into the call itself. Now you sound nervous, falter on your process and the sale goes down the tubes.
This is an example of how outer voices influence inner voices, and how inner voices influence results.
The first step is understanding what your self-talk is. Are you talking yourself out of deals because your inner voice is downgrading your abilities? Or are you building yourself up with motivating statements that give you the best possible chance to succeed?
Your inner voice controls so much about your actions. No matter what you’re doing, you’re either telling yourself goal-preventing statements or goal-supporting self-talk statements. Here are examples of both.
A goal-preventing statement is an excuse. It negatively programs your mindset to keep you away from achieving your goals. A goal-preventing statement sounds like, “I can’t follow up right now because most people have Monday morning meetings.”
A goal-supporting statement, on the other hand, will only bring you positive results. Goal-supporting statements refocus your mindset toward your goals and positively program you for success. A goal-supporting statement sounds like, “I want to be the first person to talk to them this week, and if I miss them, I’ll call back later today.”
Here are six criteria to identify goal-supporting self-talk from The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance by George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson.
1. Is it true?
Who else would believe this statement? Can you find facts and statistics that support this statement? If you were to say this statement to a close friend or colleague, and they didn’t believe it, chances are you’re not using goal-supporting self-talk.
2. Is it consistent?
Is your self-talk aligned with your goals? Are you using positive language that pushes you toward making sales? Or is your language pulling your progress back further? When your self-talk is consistent with your goals, you’re positively programming your mindset, and that leads to more sales.
3. Is it positive?
Optimistic thoughts such as “I can make this sale”, or “My purpose is to improve lives” can keep negative thoughts at bay. If your self-talk is clouded with pessimistic statements, your behavior will reflect that, and your sales will tank.
4. Is it unbiased?
Do you find that your self-talk sounds like an enemy inside your head pointing out your every flaw? If so, you need to reprogram your self-talk into an objective voice that focuses on facts without personal opinions. When your inner voice is objective, it becomes your guide toward success.
5. Is it freeing?
Does your self-talk add to your anxiety and stress? Or does it release you from your fear, and inspire you to run towards your goals? Your self-talk needs to unleash you from your doubts so you can lead your sales fearlessly.
6. Is it enriching?
Your self-talk is like your guide in a forest. It should always serve as a light out of darkness, rather than make your surroundings darker. Your self-talk should always provide you with positive perspectives during uncertainty or challenges you face.
If the words your inner self is saying to you don’t meet these criteria, then your self-talk is actively working against you.
The key to turning around destructive self-talk is to fight the fire with affirmation statements. It’s to turn back those negative words and replace them with positives. Just start with simple statements that affirm what you already know to be true. Tell yourself things like, “I have everything within me now to be successful,” or, “I was built for this moment.” The effect these statements have on your state of mind will be immediately evident in the way you come across them. And the fun thing about confident inner dialogue is that it turns into confident outer dialogue.
All of us have internal affirmations every minute of every day. You’re constantly affirming your ability, your beliefs, your capabilities, your successes, your setbacks. The key is to identify which affirmations are helping you and which are harming you. And that takes forethought.
Affirmations help you create that forethought by programming your subconscious. Forethought sounds like this: “My goal is that I want my prospect to feel relaxed and at ease and have a resolution, and therefore I want to present three simple options and state them in positive ways, so they’re easily understood.” Then that becomes the affirmation: “I am a sales warrior who always presents three options that always allow the prospect to feel relaxed and bring them to resolution.”
Do this consciously and you’ll have the self-talk of a sales warrior.
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