The Problem With Thinking For Other People

We all work out potential conversations in our heads--but be aware of the pitfalls.

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Andrew G.R.
The internal dialogue: Whether we're talking to other people in our heads or talking to ourselves, all of us conduct our own personal conversations--that no one else ever hears. (Some of us do it more than others.)

Thinking conversations through before they happen can be a useful tool in your workplace arsenal, but it is important to use the tactic sparingly. If not, you open yourself up to a whole world of hurt.

Next time you find yourself carrying on dialogue in your own head where you are speaking for your fellow office workers, here's what you can do to validate or reject the thoughts...

Am I sure?

I keep three words taped under my computer monitor and always visible: "Am I sure?"

It sounds simple, and it is. The best wisdom usually is. Think of it as taking a deep breath before hitting "send" on an E-mail. Or, stepping back for a minute before you make a major decision.

Consider the opposite.

Now that you've thought things through one way, take the time to look at them from a completely different angle. Even if every bone your body tells cues you toward your initial internal conversation, give yourself the latitude to entertain the opposite.

Acknowledge what you're doing.

You must recognize that you are thinking for somebody else. You might choose to say that in your head or aloud. But alert yourself to the fact that you are playing a guessing game.

Ask around.

Another way to get perspective is to seek the counsel of others. If possible, get advice from someone who knows the other party, and someone who does not. Obviously, choose people you trust, who will be unafraid to give you their takes.

Ultimately, the reality is that emotions cloud our perceptions of truth. Working with robots would probably be easier, although David Bowman might disagree.

Thinking for yourself is hard enough – so try to spend your energy concentrating on that!

After holding down various media jobs, including stops at MTV Networks and Fox News, Andrew G.R. was completely discouraged—not only about his own career, but also about the lack of job resources that truly spoke to him. Enter Jobacle, the employment blog and podcast designed to Make Work Better.