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Sticky Messages: How to Make Positive Thoughts Stick

I was listening to a video message from my friend Jen the other day when she said:

“Apparently I say yeah a lot, it’s my space filler.”

She said it with a self-conscious side smile.

We send each other video messages pretty much every day and once in a while I hear Jen say something out loud that tells me she’s second-guessing her speaking.

Hearing people express negative messages they’ve internalized about their speaking is nothing new to me. I hear things like:

“I say um and like too much.”


“I’m too quiet.”


“I need to learn to slow down more.”

All the time.

Negative feedback like this is sticky. And almost always unhelpful.

These messages seem to run on repeat in your brain. They keep you focussed on all the things you are "doing wrong." All the ways "you mess up."

Jen told me her “I say yeah too much” message came from feedback she got nearly 10 years ago.

When I asked her what that feedback accomplished she said, “Well, it's mainly just haunted me for these 10 years. I think about it every time I speak.”

It’s time to say goodbye to sticky negative messages about your speaking. Those nit-picky, critical messages aren't helping you, they're stopping you from doing your best.

Take any and all negative feedback you have received over the years and challenge it. Ask:

  • What does this feedback accomplish?

  • How will this feedback help me?

If there’s no good answer to those two questions, say goodbye to those messages. You’ve graduated beyond nit-picky, unhelpful speaking criticism.

When a negative message sits with me like this, I take myself through a visualization exercise where (in my mind) I write the message on a paper, put the paper in a trunk, lock the trunk, and give the trunk to a courier and then I throw away the key. Here's to burying negative, nit-picky speaking criticism!

What negative speaking messages are you going to say goodbye to?

It's a fine line between helpful and unhelpful feedback. When you sit with the messages that you find sticky, consider how they make you feel to help you decide whether or not to say goodbye to them.


Jilliane Yawney has helped over 1000 people have a massive impact with their story. Jilliane has been story coaching for twenty years and running sell-out storytelling events for over a decade. She created the Core 7 Stories for Business™ method to empower business owners and teams to use their stories to spark ideas and create connections. The Your Story Matters: The Guidebook will teach you the Core 7 Stories for Business method and help you craft your core stories.

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