Michigan Ross Professor Ethan Kross Speaks to CNN’s Anderson Cooper About Coping with ‘Chatter’ In Our Minds

June 24, 2021

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

If you ever find yourself obsessing over a particular problem or situation so much that it becomes unproductive, Ethan Kross, professor of management and organizations at the Ross School of Business, has some advice.

Ethan Kross

Ethan Kross

Kross addresses this type of challenge in a new book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters, and How to Harness It. The book has received national media attention, including a recent appearance of Kross on CNN’s Anderson Cooper Full Circle, as well as an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, an appearance on the Breakthroughs podcast, and a review of his book in The New Yorker.

In the CNN interview, Kross explains that the chatter in our heads can be useful in problem solving — until it goes too far.

“The voice in our head is a superpower,” Kross tells Cooper. “But it can also become a vulnerability when we get stuck, so rather than going inside to analyze and come up with solutions, we just end up spinning.”

Kross explains that chatter can affect us in three ways:

  • Our ability to think and perform well
  • Our relationships with other people
  • Our physical health

Kross and Cooper also discuss a number of tools, which are covered in greater depth in the book, to cope with chatter. For example, one tool, called “distanced self-talk,” involves coaching yourself through a problem as though you were talking to someone else.

“Different tools work for different people and different situations,” Kross notes.

Ethan Kross is a Center for Positive Organizations Faculty Associate and a Professor of Psychology and Management & Organizations at the University of Michigan.

This article was originally published by Michigan Ross