Hari Patience-Davies explains that saying “You’ve got this” to yourself is much better than saying “I’ve got this” when it comes to tackling stage fright.

On a recent episode of Adam Grant’s podcast Work LifeYour insecurities aren’t what you think they are – he mentioned that a great way to deal with pre-performance jitters is to talk to yourself. But not as yourself. It turns out that reassuring ourselves with statements like “I’ve got this” or “I’m gonna be great” is not as effective as using you statements such as “You’ve got this” or “You’re gonna be great.”

This was a really interesting titbit for me, because I will admit that when I need a bit of reassurance and turn to my inner voice, or the bathroom mirror, I nearly always refer to myself in the second or third person. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about or questioned, but it’s really interesting to hear that that little bit of emotional distance, using second or third person language works better than when we say “I”.

This all comes from Ethan Kross’s recent book Chatter (which is on our recommended reading list). But it makes sense. Most of us are better at giving advice to other people than to ourselves. Using you statements or even your own name in the third person can give us “enough emotional distance from our problems to become our own sages”.

It also feels like external reassurance. I often use the nickname my Dad gave me as child when reassuring myself – it makes me feel like he’s the one saying it. Which may be a bit soppy, but is still pretty effective at quelling any stage fright jitters I’m feeling.

So next time when you feeling nervous before a big presentation or meeting, take a moment to reassure yourself using second or third person statements. Talk to yourself in the bathroom mirror or find a quiet corner where no one else can hear you. Because if we all can be our own worst enemy – maybe we can also be our own best cheerleader.


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