Faulty Thinking and cognitive distortions - by Andrea Newton

Faulty Thinking and cognitive distortions - by Andrea Newton

Having Confident Conversations matters to any effective manager, leader or business owner and mindset really matters. It doesn’t matter how much preparing and planning you do physically if your thinking is faulty and you trip yourself up with challenges like these. 


Always, never, everyone, nobody, they all… It’s important to be specific and realistic – both in the way you think about things and the language you choose to use.


a) Mind reading – whereby you assume people will behave in a certain way

b) You predict things will turn out badly with no evidence to suggest such


You criticise or judge yourself or others by using “Should” or “Should not” or “Ought to” or “Have to” Far better to think of “what could I do here” rather than “should”


You forget all the positives and all the times that things went well and focus on the negatives


You blow things way out of proportion and may even catastrophise – where everything is the absolute worst it ever possibly could be…


Instead of naming the behaviour “That was a careless thing to do” you label the person “You are an idiot” – or “I made a mistake” rather than “I am a rubbish manager”


It’s strictly one or the other and there is nowhere in between – makes life so difficult if we only see solutions as black or white with no grey options

It can be helpful to overcome faulty thinking by using the following strategies:-
  1. Ask yourself, what evidence do I have to support that belief? How true is this?
  2. Write down your negative thoughts and identify the faulty thinking
  3. Think about how you would reframe the label if you were talking to a friend you cared about
  4. Use language that is more neutral and less emotive – instead of “I messed up” – perhaps “In future it would be helpful to do more research first”
  5. Focus on solutions and problem solving rather than blaming or finding fault
  6. Check in with trusted colleagues and ask for their perspective
  7. Seek first to understand – remain curious and ask questions before forming an opinion
  8. Imagine the issue as though you were a third person removed from the emotion – perhaps someone surveying the scene from up in the gallery, rather than through your eyes and with your heart

We can do lots of preparation and planning for Confident Conversations but unless we notice and correct our faulty thinking, we risk becoming our own biggest barrier to success!

About the Author

Andrea Newton has been helping organisations develop the skill and confidence to have Confident Conversations and get comfortable with the uncomfortable for over 21 years. She has worked across a range of industry sectors and is happiest working in a way that is practical, down to earth, direct and uncomplicated. She prefers a mug to a cup and prefers places that call a spade a shovel ... if you would like to benefit from her expertise and ability to make a room full of people comfortable with subjects as sensitive as suicide, then you can find out more about her at www.confidentconversations.co.uk or https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-newton-cc/

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