October 3, 2019•420 words
I remain fascinated by the impact of words on our body. When what is visceral manifests as physical. The phrase "I'm getting goosebumps" is a great example of how a range of feelings can raise the little hairs on your arms. It can happen if you're anxious, scared, or excited.
The experience of when you get goosebumps is interesting. For example, if you're in a room with 10 other people, listening to or watching the same thing, I'd bet that your goosebumps moment is unique to you.
Each individual, based on their past experience, will have something that resonated with them, and evoked a feeling strong enough to get goosebumps. Equally possible, is that no one else had a visceral reaction to that same thing that made you feel goosebumps.
I had an inflection point recently, where goosebumps were replaced by that feeling of nails on chalkboards, or a fork scraping a plate. I noticed a pattern of one colleague using defeatist language in terms of their contribution and ability to the project. I had fallen into the habit of dismissing what they said, by offering automatic platitudes.
It happened one time too many, when suddenly it started feeling like forks on a plate. I could no longer stand it, it felt painful. This person has demonstrated that they've had a long storied career, and then in equal measure proceeds to torpedo their effort and contribution single handedly.
I had to clarify to them, that their self talk is harmful, not only to themselves, but also to us. How are we supposed to trust your work, if you don't trust yourself. How is the client supposed to understand your self talk? Should they lose faith in your ability? Should they understand that they've made a mistake? That you are not the right person for this sensitive work to be completed, and by extension, the rest of your team, is equally incompetent?
The reason I no longer want to be in fixed, salaried corporate engagements, is because moments like these, become a pervasive part of an organization's culture. If this wasn't a temporary project based team, this self doubt becomes an invitation to sabotage team dynamics. It could easily lead into a cycle of gossip and personality politics.
A person is responsible for how they feel, fears and self doubt are as contagious as genuine smiles and warmth. What you say, and eventually believe about yourself, is an order of magnitude more constructive or destructive than someone else's assessment of you.