I have always been a talker, but not anymore. The other day, I was looking in the boxes in the attic. I was moving. I needed to get rid of stuff. I came across my report cards from elementary school. Oh dear.
Looking down into the past, I noticed a similarity in almost all of them: “Deon would do better in class if he was more careful and less talkative.”
The thing is, we’re all talkers. We speak about 16,000 words a day, but we have a lot more thoughts. It is our voice of conscience. He is silent, but talks tirelessly. Secretly barricading us with uninterrupted observations, comments, judgments and analyzes. We often accept the statements that spring from this river of incessant analysis as the truth. We judge our own book by its cover. We create our own evaluation report.
We go through a complex mix of emotionally intensified evaluations and judgments, some of these thoughts are positive and helpful. Others are not that helpful. In either case, our inner voice is rarely neutral or impartial. All this internal chatter isn’t just deceptive, it’s exhausting. It undermines important mental resources that you could make better use of.
Tame your “monkey mind”
It takes time, but simple actions can help you develop your self-awareness and move away from your ceaseless, negative state of mind. Record autopilot responses for driving or brushing your teeth in the morning. Autopilot is great for performing everyday tasks, but that’s where its usefulness ends.
That autopilot mode, mental chatter – or âmonkey mind,â as I like to call it – often becomes comfortable. It becomes rigid, inflexible and habitual. We have our exaggerated or most horrific stories.
When we make quick judgments, we often overestimate the readily available information and underestimate the intricacies that can take a long time to uncover.
It drives our responses to ideas, things, people and even ourselves, leading to instant judgments such as “this is how I am”. Instead, pause it and take the time to understand your core values ââ- your standards of behavior.
In different situations over the course of a day or week, see if you can notice this thing that motivates you to think, feel, or act in each experience. This is important to notice when working on autopilot. Ask yourself, “Is this useful to me (and others) right now?” “
How to get out of our usual behavior?
In order to get away from unnecessary habits that bother us, we need to recognize that our instant impressions can be wrong. They can be based on unfair and inaccurate stereotypes. Once established, they can be difficult to reconsider and change. When we make quick judgments, we often overestimate the readily available information and underestimate the intricacies that can take a long time to uncover.
As a leader, encouraging people to bring new ideas to the table is essential for productivity.
In the book Think fast and slow by psychologist Daniel Cayman, he suggests that we operate in two basic modes. Self one is generally fast and automatic. It is effortless and often carries a lot of emotional weight. It’s connected to our stories, and in that state we’re on autopilot, using our monkey mind. It is sometimes useful. The ego two is the slow and lazy animal in us. It’s deliberate and requires a lot more effort and a deeper level of attention. It is more flexible and lends itself to the rules we consciously set. It is a system that allows us to create the space between the stimulus and the response.
Operating this system in the office will create space for new ways of working, new ways of being and generating ideas for the next product development. It can also provide the agile leadership needed to create a thriving workplace.
Push the pre-judgment aside
In the workplace, creating a world where we can thrive is of paramount importance. In my experience, it’s about creating a safe environment where individuals are able to feel a range of emotions. Within this framework, there is a will and a commitment of each one to leave the habits and the usual ways of doing, in order to create. By pausing the autopilot and removing judgment, we open ourselves up to new ideas, flexibility, and adapting to new ways of working.
As a leader, encouraging people to bring new ideas to the table is essential for productivity. Encourage your employees to approach everything with an open mind. It will help them grow professionally and personally, beyond their self-determined habits.
Let go of your monkey mind and reduce the chatter in all of us by using a “move forward” mindset. After every interaction, meeting, conversation, and decision you make, ask yourself, “What did I do right there and what should I be doing more next time?” What could I do to improve myself next time? What am I grateful for in myself?
Over time, you will notice that you have stepped out of your comfort zone, breaking toxic habits and thoughts to live in the moment. You will become more mentally agile and ultimately be the best version of yourself. Better yet, you’ll blunt the gossip and your internal newsletter will become more positive and reflect reality. Embrace flexibility and openness in the workplace and in your personal life to lead your team and business into the future.
Interested in this topic? Read Personal development: the art of talking to each other more usefully at work.