Gurusubramanian Swaminathan
4 min readJan 18, 2022
Book Cover © to Chatter

“Chatter” book written by Ethan Kross: Summary

This book was recommended by one of the Cohort member as part our Coaching Foundation.

First on the author. Ethan Kross, PhD is director of Emotion & Self control Lab in University of Michigan.

The front cover and the first line recommendation from Adam Grant was impressive enough to get started.

“ This book is going to fundamentally change some of the most important conversations in your life — the ones you have with yourself “- Adam Grant.

I like the structure of the book, great flow of concepts to research papers to practical examples of real life persons like a spy, student etc.

Chapter 1 : Why we talk to ourselves ?

Deliberate self reflection will lead to wise , beneficial choices and by extension to positive emotions. This is the route to resilient , fulfilling life .

Welcome to Chatter. “Chatter “ is cyclical negative thoughts and emotions, which puts performance, decision making into jeopardy.

Inner voice is very good and helps to achieve goals, create and connect to others. The fine line of it slips into chatter is the area we should not fall in.

Chapter 2: When talking to ourselves backfires

Rick Ankiel example of baseball. How he was controlled by Inner voice.

Chatter in true form of repetitive anxious thoughts is saboteur for focussed tasks. Students perform worse on tests. Stage fright , undermines negotiations in business.

In general , people talk to others over the negative experiences over and over. Classic example is Social Media ( FB, twitter )- war of words! But the downhill is even the closest friend will stop listening if it becomes too much venting.

Inner voice — if it keeps activating the stress (threat system), it creates cortisol- keeps the fight /flight system active always , there by. Suppressing other actions in the body. Same way, suppresses other cells which protects us, making us more vulnerable to diseases.

Chapter 3: Zooming out

Gain a bigger perspective helps. Understanding why , what and the context helps to know that the pain you are going thru is much less than Original context.

Marshmallow test for kids. Wait for reward or instant gratification? Kids who wait so better in tests, healthier when older , coped with stress at later stage of life.

Solomon Paradox: an incident which happens to you is different to an incident which happens to us(Third person). How you see the incident is different.

Time travel & Power of Pen.

  • Asking people to imagine how they lives would be better after 5/10 years creates temporary experiences , which gives them HOPE.
  • Journaling creates a distance between the Experience and the person who experienced. This has very positive effects for negative situations.

Chapter Four : “ When I become You”

Use the “You” talk to generalize the experience. When people use “you”, its the power of generalization. Typical example , when I was kid was “If the electricity was shutdown for me, first instinct is to check if the neighbours is also cut off”. That gives sense of satisfaction.

Say your name. “Fred speaks. Get to it , FRED”. Use your name to reflect and take control of the situation before it spirals you down.

Chapter Five: “ Power and Peril of other people”

Co-rumination : When you need help to come put of negative experience, you go to counsellor. Counsellor asks you to re narrate the incidents , there by making you relive those. But for coming out of chatter, first is the empathy and then critical thinking. If the service provider is able satisfy this, go for the same. Else, re-think whom you want to approach

Offering advise — without considering person’s need can backfire and undermine the sense of self -efficacy- crucial belief that we are capable of managing challenges. Classic example is when the kid does the homework, parents hover around and offer suggestions and boom!. the Kid gets irritated immediately.

A gentle touch, walk, etc provides opportunities to clear up the chatter.

Chapter six : Outside In.

Exposing to greenery ( even in mind ) helps to reduce the stress. You do not have to be in nature to visualize about nature.

Longer you are exposed to nature , the more out health improves.

When you feel smaller in the midst of awe-inspiring sights — a phenomenon- “Shrinking self” happens. So do your problems. Eg: Berkeley Green River program . With veterans and a journalist (a doctorate spending time in Iraq). All stress and PTSD is reduced for sure.

Awe- is linked with reduced physical inflammation.

Compensatory Control : a set of activity which a person does to create an order in ecosystem. Reflects the need for inner calm. Eg : Rafael Nadal — I’d card seeing up, water bottles one behind other .

Chapter Seven : Mind Magic

Rituals : helps us to reduce the chatter. As it demands the working memory in the tasks there by reducing anxiety and stress.

In Summary, there are specific tools you can use to control the chatter.

Tools you can implement on your own :

  1. Use distanced self talk
  2. Imagine advising a friend
  3. Broaden your perspective
  4. Reframe your experience as challenge
  5. Reinterpret your body’s chatter response
  6. Normalize your experience
  7. Engage in mental time travel
  8. Change the view
  9. Write expressively
  10. Adopt the perspective of neural third party
  11. Clutch a lucky charm
  12. Perform a ritual

Hope you got the gist of this book in this summary. If you want to buy the book or get a complete information from Ethan Kross, head over to BUY Chatter by Ethan Kross book now

Gurusubramanian Swaminathan

Life Coach working with people to enhance their lives (Career, Personal).Vivid Writer in Medium Platform on Positivity,Life Lessons & Reflections.IT Program Mgr