There is a much overlooked aspect of sales success that is rarely talked about and people pay little attention to, it is: self-talk. The most important conversation is the one you have with yourself. The reason that conversation is so important is because the words and language you use both reveal and reinforce your beliefs about yourself and the world. Those beliefs dictate the action you take, or don’t take, and ultimately determine success or failure. If you have a problem selling, you more than likely have a self-talk problem. The difference between the top salespeople and everyone else, is that the top people became aware of their negative self-talk and beliefs and reprogrammed their language and beliefs to positive ones, or, they were one of the lucky few who received positive programming right from the get go. The latter by the way is the exception, most of us received negative programming growing up. Either way, if you want to become a champion, you need to ensure that your self-talk is positive, upbeat, and supports you.
How to identify and solve possible self-talk issues
Step 1: Awareness
Like everything else in life, awareness is step one. You can’t fix a problem you don’t know you have. If you are overweight, but you don’t think you are, the problem won’t get fixed. If your finances are wrong, but you don’t know there’s a problem, you won’t get them right. If you have a self-talk problem, you need to be aware of it before you can change it. So the first thing you want to do is monitor your self-talk. What do you catch yourself saying about yourself and the world around you? Are most of your conversations negative or positive? Do you find yourself saying negative things about the economy, your particular market, your industry, or your product? How about your self-talk about you? Do you believe you aren’t smart enough, young enough, old enough, don’t have enough energy, have too much energy, that bad things always happen to you, or that the odds are always stacked against you? Your beliefs will be your reality.
Step 2: Getting your self-talk right
If you realize you have a self-talk problem, here are some ways to work on it:
a. Positive Affirmations
Many people are familiar with affirmations and have either tried them in the past or use them currently. In a nutshell, positive affirmations are a series of positive statements which reinforce a belief you want to have about yourself. For example, if you want to have more self-confidence, you might use affirmations such as: “I am confident”, “I believe in myself”, “I feel my confidence increasing everyday”, and other similar statements.
b. Positive Afformations
Noah St. John coined the phrase Afformations in his book by the same name. Afformations are similar to Affirmations but they are slightly different in that they are in the form of questions versus statements. In the case of Afformations, if you wanted to have more self-confidence, you would use questions such as: “Why am I so confident?”, “Why is it so easy for me to believe in myself and do the things I need to do?”, “Why do I have so much talent and ability?” The theory is that while your brain may be able to argue with a statement (affirmation) you make such as “I am confident”, it does not argue but rather searches for an answer to the question when you ask, “Why am I so confident?” Again, you can check out Noah’s book where he lists Afformations for most areas of life that people struggle with.
Note: There are four ways to work with affirmations and afformations: listening to a recording of them, reading them, writing them, and saying them to yourself either out loud or silently. Ideally if you are vocalizing them, you want to say them with as much feeling and emotion as possible. It’s best to work with affirmations and affirmations first thing in the morning, right before going to bed, and then, if you can a few times during the day.
The most popular psycho-cybernetic technique to shift self-talk is to cancel out negative statements. You do this by saying the word “cancel” after you catch yourself saying something negative and then following the word “cancel” with a positive statement. For example, if you catch yourself saying, “Why do things always go wrong for me?”, you’d say “cancel”, out loud if possible, and then follow that with either an Affirmation such as: “Things always go right for me”, or an Afformation such as, “Why do things always go right for me?”
d. Clean up your environment
Specifically eliminate negatives and negative people from your environment. Where you end up 5, 10, 15 years from now will come down to what you put in your brain and who you hang out with. You cannot watch the evening news and be positive. You also cannot hang out with negative people and have positive self-talk for any length of time.
Finally, keep in mind that everyone has some negative self-talk occasionally. In fact, the majority of champions have had self-talk problems caused by major self-esteem and self-confidence issues. Many were plagued by insecurities that were constantly reinforced with negative self-talk. The key is that they recognized it and did something about it and that’s the key for you too. Become aware of these thoughts, catch yourself in the act, and then shift the conversation and reinforce the positive until it becomes your new habit. This does not happen overnight and takes work, but if you commit yourself to positive words and language, you should see a fairly substantial and positive shift in about 30 days.
By the way, another great book related to self-talk is: “What to Say When you Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter.