Is your career being driven by that nasty little voice in your head? Much has been written about how negative self-talk is damaging to your self-esteem. A stronger light needs to be shown on the career damage you can do. You may call these behaviors cognitive distortions, stinking thinking, or negative self-talk. Regardless, the result is the same – career self-sabotage. Here is my promise: these behaviors can be managed and you can experience a career boost as a result! Is that enough of a promise to keep on reading?
What kind of distorted thinking are we talking about here? Check out the short list below and ask yourself if you are in the habit of thinking or saying any of these:
- All-or-nothing thinking: You look at things as either black or white. You are either the most skilled marketing professional in the world or an incompetent who should have never been hired.
- Negative filtering: You remember and focus on your mistakes, the things that go wrong or your weaknesses to the exclusion of any positives. There was one typo in your report and you can only remember this. Never mind that your boss praised you for the insights and pragmatic action plan.
- Jumping to conclusions: You try to mind read others or predict the future around which you have little information. You were not on a list for an upcoming meeting and you are sure that means your department does not see you as valuable.
- Catastrophizing: You take the smallest problem and follow the potential consequences to the worst possible outcome. After you were not on the list for the meeting, you assume not only do they not value you; firing is in your future, probably by the end of the day.
P.S. This is a short list; there are many more distortions that may be your undoing.
If you don’t manage these behaviors, “Danger, danger, Will Robinson.” (If you are too young to recognize this TV reference, Google it) Here are just a few of the possible rotten ramifications:
- Blowing mistakes out of proportion
- Creating an environment where you limit your necessary risk-taking
- Taking responsibility for events that are not your fault
- A focus on your weaknesses versus your strengths
- Intense procrastination
Does this sound like a prescription for success? No, I don’t think so either. You need a perspective of positivity that impacts your risk-taking, creativity, timeliness, innovation, and confidence. In your defense, these behaviors are often an attempt to protect oneself. One assumes this type of thinking prepares you for the worst. The bad news is this does not work! Instead of preparing you for the worst, it adds stress to your life and work.
One of my clients, we are going to call her Marti, came to me initially to work on getting a new job she was seeking. She had been working on her resume for over a year, because in her eyes it would either have to be perfect or don’t put anything out there. If she did not get an interview from a particular application she would quit for months, as it was apparent NO ONE would ever hire her and she would be stuck in her current job for the rest of her life! It became clear quickly that cognitive distortions had been holding her back. In our coaching, she began with the simple four steps you will see in Kay’s Corner and then we ramped up with additional techniques. In three months she was on to a new job. This is feasible!
If you know this behavior is like an anchor around your neck, here are some quick life rings to catch:
Check out the book: Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning.
Then read the four steps in Kay’s Corner. If you recognize that Cognitive Distortions and other negative learned behaviors are making career advancement like sailing in rough waters, please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.