The earliest lesson many of us learn when we first become interested in self-improvement is to express ourselves in positive terms. This is because the language we use, which usually reflects our beliefs, helps to shape our experiences. Being positive also serves us well at work where we want to make a sale, encourage people to cooperate, and serve our customers well.
Some casual “negative” comments are basically innocent. “This cheesecake is to die for!” uses the idiom, “to die for.” This is a fairly harmless statement although some health-food enthusiasts might think it’s prophetic. The speaker really means, “This cheesecake is delicious!” And then there are times when a negative is simply a declarative statement: “They’re not going to the meeting.”
On the other hand, some comments that appear casual are fueled by negative emotions, which, if used regularly, can produce unwanted results in a speaker’s experience. The comment, “They’re filthy rich,” could mean that the speaker is envious of someone or thinking, “At least someone can make that kind of money; not me, but someone can.” This is a strong, pessimistic affirmation, which, if used over time, could delay the speaker’s financial success.
So notice which negatives you use are casual and innocent, which are produced by strong emotions, and which might be part of an ongoing pattern. Then keep your communication positive by avoiding the following three categories of negative words.
1. Obviously Negative Words
Replace words, such as “don’t,” “can’t,” “won’t,” and “not” with statements of what you do want. Instead of saying, “You can’t miss it,” say, “You’ll find it.” Instead of saying, “Don’t forget to register,” say, “Remember to register.”
2. Words with Negative Implications
Replace words such as “reject,” “fail,” “mistake,” “limit,” and “complain” with words that have positive meanings. Instead of saying, “This corrects the mistake you made in your account,” say, “Your account is now current.” Instead of saying, “We’ll give careful attention to your complaint,” say, “We’ll look into the situation.”
3. Confusing Negatives
A confusing negative happens when you start to say one thing, and then in mid-sentence, reverse what you’re saying. For example, “Don’t use this exit except in emergencies.” The first part of the sentence, “Don’t use this exit …” sets up one command, then negates it by saying “… except in emergencies.” This sentence really means, “Use this exit only in emergencies.”
Also, watch for “embedded commands,” which are suggestions that are enclosed within a spoken or a written sentence. Because the suggestion is concealed, people’s defenses are down and the suggestion goes directly into their unconscious minds without censure.
In the sentence, “I really feel tired today, Mary” the speaker is referring to himself or herself, but when “Mary” hears the word “tired,” she forms associations of what the word “tired” means to her, and she might begin to feel tired herself. Likewise if a speaker says “I really feel great today, Mary.” the speaker is embedding a suggestion for Mary to feel as good as the speaker does.
A single embedded suggestion might have little effect on a listener or a reader. If a speaker or a writer uses a variety of similar suggestions over a period of time, however, the suggestions could have an accumulative effect. Listeners or readers might begin to feel tired or feel energized accordingly. A responsible communicator strives to influence with integrity.
For practice, from now on, glance through every letter or email you’re about to send and make sure you’ve worded it in the most positive way.
Good communication is the basis of every successful business transaction—and personal relationships, too. When you apply the ideas in this article you’ll communicate clearly to your listeners or readers in the quickest amount of time, enhance your personal and professional image, and feel more positive about yourself and others.
Copyright by Kathleen Hawkins
You may copy, reprint, or forward this article to friends, colleagues or customers, as long as you include the following credit: Copyright by Kathleen Hawkins, author of Spirit Incorporated: How to Follow Your Spiritual Path from 9 to 5. www.WinningSpirit.com