Mingling Self-Talk, Self-Defeating, Self-Supporting Suan RoAne

SELF-TALK is a mingling menace.

It’s a big part of what stops us from mingling, circulating, and from moving comfortably around a room and conversing with people. Thanks to Dr.Geraldine Alpert’s recommendation of Dr. Pamela Butler’s classic book, Talking To Yourself, I’ve been aware of the issue and included it in the inaugural issue of How To Work a Room in 1988 and each subsequent reissue. It’s based on self-perception, self-confidence, and self-esteem. People who register low in these areas can talk themselves out of meeting people and feeling at ease talking to them.

Dr. Butler was one of the first psychologists to write about the concept of self-talk, which has become more widely recognized in the last twenty-five years. They are the things we say to ourselves —either out loud or silently — often unaware that we are saying them to ourselves. Self-talk can be either positive or negative. Dr. Butler says that we can change negative self-talk to positive self-talk, and that this transformation can have benefits in all areas of our lives.

That VOICE In Our Heads

Mary Orlin, now a restaurant and wine reviewer for San Jose’s Mercury News , founder of and a contributor to The Huffington Post, shared that she often hears the voice that says “Who will want to talk to me? What will we have in common?” Mary, executive producer of NBC’s In Wine Country, is used to being behind the camera. (We met when she was travel producer for CNN.) “I have to give myself a pep talk, remind myself why I’m attending the event and think, ‘I’m going up to people, introduce myself and start a conversation’.”

Mary has built multiple networks in travel, the media, the wine industry and now her big passion—the perfume industry. “I went to New York to attend ‘Sniffapalooza’ because it’s an important event for perfumistas to meet perfumers, industry leaders and other fragrance lovers. There’s a luncheon between sessions at a New York restaurant. By the time I arrived, the seats near my friend were taken so I sat in an open seat not near anyone I knew.”

“I took a very deep breath and introduced myself to the people around me. It was not comfortable. The fellow across the table was fascinated that I wrote my own wine blog. We talked during the lunch. Because he was also a wine enthusiast, he invited me to visit Sherry-Lehmann, a well-known wine shop down the street.”

“We talked about joint venturing on an event pairing wines and perfumes. It’s now in the planning stages. If I hadn’t introduced myself to these ‘strangers’ and allowed my self-talk to inhibit me, I would not have had the conversation, been invited to Sherry Lehman or have a new venture in the works and I would not have made a great new friend.”

Negative Self-Talk

talking to yourself Self-Talk, Mingling Self-Supporting
Here is some negative self-talk that might come up when you think of working a room:
• I’ve always had trouble meeting with people. It’s just the way I am. (or today’s version: “I’m an introvert.”)
• I can’t make—and despise—small talk…it’s such a waste of time.
• I don’t have anything important or interesting to say. I’ll just embarrass myself. Better to keep quiet and be cool.
• Why would anyone want to listen to me? All these people have more important things to do.

Take a moment to write down any negative self-talk you may have, and then rewrite those statements as positive ones. The above comments might be rewritten as:

• I’m having fun practicing meeting people, and I’m getting better at it all the time. I’m enjoying mastering a new skill.
• Small talk is a great way to get to know new people.
• I want to extend myself to other people and know that I have much to offer. If I’m open and honest, I’ll feel good about myself and so will they.
• We’re all busy, but everyone enjoys connecting with other people. I’m a valuable, likable person. Extending myself is a gift that others—who may be shyer than I am— appreciate.

It works in many areas of our lives! I attended a party and met a nice couple. The wife told me that before her marriage, her professional networking group used my book for their discussion forum. She committed to revising her “self-talk” and attended a party. She saw a nice man, whom she learned was single, and struck up a conversation about their host, which led to other topics of interest. That nice man? You guessed it . . . her husband! Yenta, the Matchmaker takes her bow.

That she used my business advice to enhance her personal life had a tremendous payoff!

Excerpted from How To Work a Room Silver Anniversary edition. Susan RoAne is an international .
“Kick-off” Keynote speaker who sets the tone for interaction and conversation at meetings, conventions and events.

About Susan RoAne

Susan RoAne leads a double life as a sought-after professional keynote speaker and a bestselling author. Known as The Mingling Maven®, she gives diverse audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. The San Francisco Chronicle says she has a “dynamite sense of humor.” To hire Susan to speak for your company, association or college, 1.415.461.3915