The words we use have a powerful effect on ourselves and others. If we allow words to naturally flow from our mouths without ever examining them, we fall into many bad speaking habits. One of the most devastating habits is the tendency to make negative statements. These are counterproductive and uninspiring- they have no place in our vocabulary. Positive statements lead us towards positive actions; negative statements lead us nowhere. Fortunately, we can easily change negative statements into positive statements.
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Change the phrase "should have" to "could have." Harriet Meyerson, founder of The Confidence Center, says that the words "should have" creates guilt and shame for some action that can no longer be changed. She recommends using the words "could have" because they do not condemn anyone, and they still let the person know that she had a choice in the matter.
Pause before reaching a conclusion and consider additional information. Most negative statements come when we jump to conclusions before considering the whole matter. We naturally assume the worst, most negative interpretation without considering the alternatives. Your statements will be more positive if you simply pause and ask yourself, "What is the rest of the story?"
Stop exaggerating the truth with superlative words such as "always" and "never." These superlatives are counterproductive because they put people on the defensive. Get the message across using positive alternative words, such as "seldom" and "often." If you tell somebody, "You never go to the game with me," this will make him uncomfortable and defensive. But tell him, "We seldom go to the game together- would you like to go?'' and he will be much more likely to say "yes."
Replace negative descriptions with neutral descriptions. Rather than addressing somebody's faults, look at her differences with you. Just because somebody is different in some way does not mean that she must be wrong. Using neutral descriptions makes you more effective in leading others towards the desired results.
Transform all negative words about "failure" and "mistakes" into inspiring words that lead to action. Using words like "failure" depletes energy by focusing the mind on negative actions and negative outcomes. Change these into positive statements by calling them "lessons." For example, instead of telling somebody that he "failed to meet the goal," you can tell him, "You learnt a valuable lesson." This positive statement brings his attention to future actions and assumes that he will make better decisions in the future.
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