Talking to yourself at work is normal

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I talk to myself.

Like just now, when I opened an e-mail with the intriguing subject line: “Recruitment?” Here I am thinking, Finally! Someone in the outside world has noticed my untapped talent and seeks my services for a disgusting amount of money! But when I open it, I realize the author is offering me his services to fill the many IT positions I am apparently filling. I mutter: “Wha?” Then: “Doofus.” Then: “IT, my @#$%.”

You do it, too. According to Jared Sandberg of the Wall Street Journal today,

…in your cubicle-bound life, researchers say as many as 96% of people talk to themselves aloud, and deaf people have been observed signing to themselves while answering test questions.


Among the things it’s useful for is what’s called self-regulation: goal-setting, problem-solving, decision-making and planning (“When she says, ‘You already got a raise,’ I’ll say, ‘Which didn’t keep pace with inflation’ “). These conversations with one’s self tend to increase, research shows, with the complexity of tasks and when someone’s having a bad day.

Imagine the monologues Eliot Spitzer’s having right about now.

Me, I’m a social creature. I grew up in a large, garrulous family. Every workplace I’ve had prior to this one has placed me in an open pool of other like types. But here I sit in a small office with no one in close earshot. I don’t pick up the phone unless I recognize the caller’s number. I foray out of my cave only to go to the bathroom or refill my tea mug. So when I have something to say, either I post it hereā€”or I mumble to myself.

Tell me I’m not alone.