By using positive language, you can prime your brain for positivity. Words matter and when you choose positive language (and hear it), it makes you feel positive. It makes you feel better emotionally and mentally, which will of course positively impact on your physical health as well.
So, what’s in a word? Let’s take a look!
For example, a phrase like why not? doesn’t seem inherently negative, does it? No, it’s not negative per-say, but imagine replacing it with sounds great! Sounds great is a far more positive response to a request or invitation than why not, isn’t it?
When you run into an old friend or catch up over text or email and have to respond to how are things? The response of can’t complain isn’t necessarily negative, but it isn’t positive either. A much more positive response would everything is well, thanks! When you say you can’t complain, the brain going into overdrive with its negative bias.
Even small phrases like I’m so tired are more negative versus I should rest. How is this possible? The idea of rest is providing a solution to a problem which is a more positive way to phrase your need.
At home, there are a lot of frustrating things to deal with especially if you’re a parent. However, if you have children, it’s even more important that you get a grip on negative language before it rubs off on the kids.
For example, parents often have to say don’t play with the ball inside! I know it’s a phrase I heard frequently throughout my childhood. A more positive way to phrase this request/demand is please go outside if you want to play ball.
Instead of directing your child with don’t, choose to phrase it as I like it when. Of course, this is something you can use with adults, too. It’s more likely to get the desired action and a positive outcome.
Instead of telling someone how you much have missed them, tell them how great it is to see them. Instead of just saying no to a child’s request, explain why you’re saying no before you reject it.
Now, let’s shift gears and head to work. It’s so easy to slip into negative language at work. Let’s take care of some of the biggest negative words or phrases we fall back on at work.
Focus on what you can do to help people expect positive results. If you miss something don’t say you forgot, say you will set a reminder. Rather than saying a project deadline will be missed due to late submissions from people, request that everyone turns in their work by [deadline]. The first sentence sets it up for failure.
The people who are running behind will lose motivation and feel as though they can miss the deadline because you already said they’re going. As frustrating as email culture can be, it’s a great opportunity to practice using positive language because you can proofread and edit before clicking send! Avoid words like problems, unfortunately, impossible, or sadly and revise those sentences.
Don’t use words like constructive criticism, flip the script, and call it feedback. It’s the exact same thing, but just hearing the word criticism (even if it’s constructive) sets someone up to be defensive. Feedback is a more positive word.
You can take negative situations and words and turn them into more positive situations and words. It’s something you can practice in writing to improve verbal conversations. It might take time, but it’s possible.
Why would you bother?
First of all, it’s going to improve your overall attitude and mindset. By using positive language, you are building a more positive outlook. Secondly, it’s going to improve how others perceive you and lead to greater outcomes.