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Before we can address our interactions with others, we must address our inner monologue and how we speak to ourselves. Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? How does self-talk help you move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?

self-talk, inner voice

How do you approach the following situations: Professional development you find difficult, boring, or unnecessary? Difficult relationships? How can self-talk assist in improving difficult relationships with others?

The way we talk to ourselves about obstacles and frame situations in our heads can make a difference in how we choose to handle those situations. Whether you tackle an obstacle with a growth mindset or avoid it or rationalize it away with a fixed mindset, has a great deal to do with how you’ve established the situation in your own head.

So, the question becomes, how can you shut down fixed-mindset self-talk and replace it with growth-mindset self-talk? Often, using your growth mindset just means changing your self-talk. Instead of writing others off, you seek to find ways to help them. Instead of giving up, you figure out another way to attack the problem. Instead of letting jealousy or feelings of inadequacy take center stage, you focus on how you can improve.

The first thing to do is to recognize your fixed mindset voice. Are you a blamer? An avoider? A rationalizer? Or all three? Once you do that, you can identify your triggers and start to deal with them, moving from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset.

The following are strategies for addressing triggers and maximizing self-talk to create positive relationships.

  1. As mentioned above, know your triggers. If you identify triggers ahead of time, you can prepare ahead of time with strategies to head them off.
  2. When your self-talk turns to the fixed mindset (I can’t do this!) add the word “yet” to the end of it. “I can’t do this, yet,” is a way to rephrase a fixed – mindset message into a growth – mindset message quickly and effectively, as the “yet” implies there exists a path to understanding and growth if you’re willing to put in the work.

As you approach relationships with others, engage the following self-talk strategies before interactions in order to facilitate growth.

  • Intentionally Look for the Good
  • Find Something You Have in Common
  • Three Positives for Every Negative

Our self-talk can also be our harshest critic. Make efforts to make sure your self-talk is positive and kind. Instead of berating yourself for negative interactions with someone, speak to yourself as you would someone else who has failed in some way or made a mistake — with love and compassion.

Being critical of ourselves isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We should reflect on our interpersonal skills with a critical eye, but we should do it in a way that is helpful, not in a way that attacks our value and self-worth.


*Developed from In Other Words: Phrases for Growth Mindset: A Teacher’s Guide to Empowering Clients through Effective Praise and Feedback (Growth Mindset for Teachers) by Annie Brock, and Heather Hundley.

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