positive self talk and productivity

Positive Self-Talk Can Boost Your Productivity – Here’s How

You can only be as productive as what you tell yourself all day long. “Ever played your favorite motivational song before a presentation? When you’re in tune with the music and actively listening to the lyrics, your self-talk kicks in and you can go from listening to seeing yourself succeed,” says organizational psychologist Erica Megan Page, Ph.D.

“This minute shift in your mindset can influence your behaviors and lead you to perform better than you would have. fMRI research has shown that positive emotions affect productivity centers in the brain and boost performance.”

Not convinced you have the time to assess your inner dialogue when your to-do list is piling up? Think twice – doing so can save you time, especially if you have a tendency to see the glass half empty at work.

“Situations that engender negative emotions like rumination and negative self-talk literally steal resources away from areas in the brain that are needed to be productive and give them to areas that help us process emotions,” adds Page. As a result, negative thought spirals can make you less able to complete complex tasks like reasoning and planning. Conversely, using uplifting self-talk to engender positive thoughts and emotions can free up resources that allow you to increase your performance.

How positive self-talk boosts productivity

Here’s how this plays out in practice. First, giving yourself a pep talk instead of beating yourself up can help you be more focused and creative while working. “We perform better because we’re able to think of novel solutions or understand different perspectives, but also because we’re better able to ignore distractions, “ says Page.

And, according to her, positive self-talk (or any other actions or situations that engender positive emotions) temporarily increases your working memory capacity, the part of your brain that is responsible for filtering out distractions and keeping you on track with your deliverables.

“Leaders and teams should be aware that positive self-talk can be useful when working in an environment with a lot of potential distractions,” she says.

Leveraging the power of positive self-talk for productivity

Page recommends embracing micro-affirmations to engage in positive internal dialogue, and, in turn, have a positive effect on productivity. You can even encourage your team to do the same so you can feed into a virtuous cycle of positivity.

If you’re wondering what micro-affirmations are and how you and your teammates can use them, they are intentional yet subtle comments, actions, or displays that aim to make others feel welcome, encouraged, and supported. “They can lead targets to engage in positive internal dialogue as they process positive feelings associated with the comment, action or display,” says Page.

No wonder peer recognition can be so powerful – it also helps improve self-talk on an individual level. Be generous with your praise and let the contagious effects of micro-affirmations take place.

The dos and don’ts of using self-talk for increased productivity

Ready to start improving the quality of your self-talk? Start by paying attention to it. If you notice negative inner dialogue, do not try to ignore it. “Ignoring it basically ensures it will come around to distract you again later,” according to Page. “Instead, recognize it for what it is, write it down to get it out of your head, then think of a positive alternative to replace it with.”

You’ll also want to avoid saying things to yourself that you don’t believe, as your mind won’t be convinced and will still feel self-doubt. Telling yourself that you are the best when you’re actually running behind on a project just won’t cut it. Instead, pick sentiments that you can actually endorse and that are based on reality, from complimenting yourself for doing your best to listing recent wins.

Practice daily to get into the habit of speaking to yourself kindly so that when you need positive self-talk to get you through a particularly tough work assignment, you’ll be ready. Finally, while creating a team culture of positively affirming each other is great, don’t only rely on external validation to jumpstart your positive self-talk with compliments. “Spend time developing your confidence so you can feed your own virtuous cycle,” adds Page.

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