The other day as I was driving, I saw a man walking down the sidewalk in a suit that was far too big for him. The sleeves hung down over his palms, and the jacket swallowed his shoulders.
Speaking words that aren’t yours has the same effect as wearing a suit not meant for your body. Phrases and words that you would never choose won’t roll easily off your tongue; you’ll be preoccupied by them as the man I saw was preoccupied by his too-big suit.
I encounter this most often when clients have a high-stakes speech to give. They have practiced it in front of their peers or their boss, and each audience has tweaked and changed and suggested and polished. What’s left is a speech that the client barely recognizes as her own. Each iteration moves the speaker further away from her original message, and clouds her own understanding of it.
You wouldn’t let some give you clothes that don’t fit to wear to a big event. Don’t let them give you words that aren’t yours, either.