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  • Writer's pictureChuck Cusumano

The Inner Critic: How Negative Self-Talk Sabotages Your Workplace Confidence

By Betty Gebhardt and Chuck Cusumano

As we find ourselves just a few weeks into 2024, are you hitting your goals, hitting the gym, eating healthy, sticking to a new budget, or making dedicated and consistent progress toward whatever your goal may be?

If you are like most January go-getters, your energy and focus in achieving these new behaviors may be starting to fade. Why? We have written some blogs to help you understand the dilemma – including these on resolutions, confidence, and the 100% rule – and will be writing several articles soon on a related topic near and dear to our soul at The Joshua Group – confidence! We're kicking it off with a post from Betty Gebhardt, who works with us in helping individuals and teams to understand and improve on an important skill dealing with confidence: the function of self-talk.


Have you ever walked into a meeting feeling like a fraud, despite your years of experience? Or mumbled your brilliant idea under your breath, convinced nobody would take it seriously? Chances are, you're not alone. The culprit? Our very own inner critic – the master of negative self-talk and the resident destroyer of workplace confidence.

Think of your inner critic as a broken record, replaying the same old tune: "You're not good enough," "They'll find you out soon," "Everyone else is smarter than you." These seemingly harmless whispers can chip away at our self-worth, leaving us feeling hesitant, insecure, and - ultimately - holding ourselves back.

The consequences? They're real and far-reaching. Negative self-talk can:

  • Dim your voice in meetings: When your inner critic drowns out your ideas, you miss out on opportunities to contribute and shine.

  • Paralyze you with fear of failure: The fear of messing up can lead to procrastination, missed deadlines, and a general reluctance to take risks.

  • Damage your relationships with colleagues: Constant self-deprecation can make you appear less approachable and confident, hindering your ability to build strong professional bonds.

  • Sabotage your career advancement: If you don't believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Negative self-talk can hold you back from seeking promotions or taking on new challenges.

But there's good news! The record doesn't have to be stuck on repeat. We can rewrite the script and transform our inner critic into a supportive coach. Here's how:

  • Become aware of your self-talk: Pay attention to the thoughts that run through your mind throughout the day. Are they mostly positive and encouraging, or do they tend towards negativity? Once you identify the pattern, you can begin to challenge it.

  • Challenge the negativity: Don't just accept your inner critic's pronouncements as truth. Question them! Ask yourself if there's evidence to support the negative thoughts, and if not, counter them with positive affirmations.

  • Focus on your strengths: We all have talents and skills that make us valuable. Instead of dwelling on your perceived weaknesses, take some time to list your strengths and accomplishments. Remind yourself of what you're good at!

  • Practice positive self-talk: Replace the negative whispers with positive affirmations. Tell yourself things like "I am capable," "I deserve success," "I am learning and growing." Repetition is key, so make these affirmations a daily habit.

  • Seek support: Talk to a trusted colleague, mentor, or therapist about your struggles with self-doubt. Sharing your experiences and getting support can be incredibly empowering.

Remember, changing your inner narrative takes time and effort. But with consistent practice and self-compassion, you can silence the critic, boost your confidence, and unlock your full potential in the workplace. So, go ahead, hit the "rewrite" button on your inner script and write a story of success and self-belief. Your confidence, and your career, will thank you for it.

Bonus tips:

  • Keep a "gratitude journal" to remind yourself of the positive aspects of your work life.

  • Celebrate your achievements, big and small.

  • Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.

  • Invest in professional development opportunities to build your skills and knowledge.

By taking these steps, you can create a workplace environment where you feel confident, valued, and ready to take on any challenge!

Please reach out to us at for help in rewriting your story and gaining confidence in the workplace! We're also working on a confidence assessment, available soon! In the meantime, check out our other assessments, here!

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