Inner Voice.  Making better decisions in the heat of the moment

At work, we are precisely as good as the sum total of the decisions we make.

Unfortunately most of these decisions are influenced if not driven by a whole raft of factors, which we are generally unaware of.  In this series of thought pieces I unveil a number of these influences and suggest how to make better choices in real time.


Inner Voice

Our Inner Voice comments on everything we do and it can often be astonishingly vicious.  “Don’t choke”, “You’re stupid”, “You going to get found out in a minute”, etc..

But it is important to realise that your Inner Voice is not the same as you.  It is just a thought which forces its way on to the stage of your consciousness.

Recognising that your Inner Voice is just a thought, to be considered alongside others can be very empowering.

Now despite often being extremely negative, your Inner Voice is well intended.  It doesn’t want you to get hurt and will be relaying advice which has either worked in the past or that minimises risk.  It sometimes simply relays messages we have heard often in the past from Parents and Teachers.

However, just because it is well intended does not mean it is good advice.  Don’t accept your Inner Voice as fact.  Thank your Inner Voice for the thought, but choose to disregard its advice when it is helpful to do so!


How to better manage your Inner Voice

So how do we do this in practice?  Well, as ever, 80% of the battle is to spot when our Inner Voice is pushing us down an unhelpful path.  Sometimes we can do this in the moment, but because it’s so much a part of how we think of ourselves this is actually quite difficult.  More realistically, we stick a better chance of uncovering our Inner Voice with hindsight.

Step One then, is to invest time thinking through moments where we feel we had a sudden change of emotion or mindset:  Why did I suddenly lose my confidence at that point? Why was I so defensive with my boss? and so on.

Think through what drove the sudden change. Was there a caustic little comment from our Inner Voice at the heart of it?  If so I’d suggest writing down what is it saying to you.  You might find it surprisingly difficult to bring yourself to actually commit these comments to paper, which rather highlights how judgmental and negative these thoughts can often be.

Step Two. Analyse what you have written.  It may be helpful to figure out where it first came from.  Does it stem from a particularly nasty teacher who was projecting their own life problems on to their pupils?  Was it a Parent trying to help you navigate the vagaries of childhood? If so, these may or may not have been helpful at the time, but are they really relevant to you now in the mature and complex worlds of work and life in general?

If we can find the root of the Inner Voice then that invariably helps to dissipate its power. Even if the origin is less clear though, we can still ask ourselves the key question, i.e. is what my Inner Voice saying valid and helpful?  Remember the Inner Voice is just one of a number of possible thoughts and we can choose to ignore it and to select a more helpful mindset if we choose to do so.

Step Three then is to think through more helpful thoughts or ideas for each occasion.  Ask yourself if you can you go against your Inner Voice and follow other courses of action?  If not, why not?!  Some people find it helpful to base their Inner Voice on an actual person: A grandparent that was always supportive or a boss early in their career that they really admired.  It’s possible to have a whole raft of different “Inner Supporters” on hand with helpful comments for different situations.


Executive Coaching   

An Executive Coach works with high performers to explore the assumptions and drivers hidden beneath our thinking. This helps us make better decisions in the moment, improving performance and making work more rewarding in every way.