How To Get Rid Of Negative Speak

Positive VS Negative

Is it really necessary to highlight the differences between Negative & Positive Language? You wouldn’t think so. And does it really matter anyway? Does it make a difference if we speak with negative undertones rather than sharing the PollyAnna world of Positive Thinking. Isn’t Positive Thinking overrated anyway?

Of course, those phrases and questions are designed to stir thoughts and emotions related to the aspects of conditional judgement. No doubt you have your own scale of judgement that identifies how you feel when someone is negatively disposed to you.

But how can you recognise when you are being negative and how can it be adjusted to reflect a more positive outlook, without patronising or sounding cheesy? Here are some examples:

Negative phrasing and language often have the following characteristics:

? it tells the other person what cannot be done.

? it has a subtle tone of blame.

? it includes words like can’t, won’t, unable to, that tell the other what the person cannot do.

? it does not stress positive actions that would be appropriate, or positive consequences

Whereas, Positive phrasing and language have the following qualities:

? tells the other person what can be done

? suggests alternatives and choices available to the other

? sounds helpful and encouraging rather than bureaucratic

? stresses positive actions and positive consequences that can be anticipated

Common Negative Language/Phrasing

If you want to move to more positive communication, the first task is to identify and eliminate common negative phrasing. The following are quite common, and should be avoided whenever possible.

1. Expressions that suggest carelessness:

a) You neglected to…

b) You failed to include…

c) You overlooked…

2. Phrases that suggest the person may be lying or withholding information:

a) You claim that…

b) You say that…

c) You state that…

3. Expressions that imply that the recipient is not too bright:

a) We cannot see how you…

b) We fail to understand…

c) We are at a loss to know…

4. Demanding phrases that imply coercion/pressure:

a) You should…

b) You ought to…

c) You must…

d) We must ask you to…

e) We must insist…

5. Phrases that might be interpreted as sarcastic or patronizing:

a) No doubt…

b) I would have thought you…

c) You understand, of course…

d) Please respond soon…

Positive Phrasing

If you are going to eliminate negative phrases, you will need to replace them with more positive ways of conveying the same information. Below are just a few examples of positive phrasing.

1) If you can send us [whatever], we can complete the process for you.

2) The information we have suggests that you have a different viewpoint on this issue. Let me explain our perspective.

3) Might we suggest that you [suggestion].

4) One option open to you is [option].

5) We can help you to [whatever] if you can send us [whatever].

Have a look at some emails or memos you have written. Go through each one word by word, and phrase by phrase, highlighting sentences that have a negative tone. Be alert to subtle aspects of your memos that send bureaucratic or demeaning messages. Then take a look at how each could be rephrased to achieve a more positive meaning.

Remember, people will experience emotions related to the quality of the message you have sent. That message may be through the written word, spoken word or through body language. Think about the quality and meaning of the message you want to send. How do you want the other person to receive it? What emotion do you wish to evoke from what you say? What positive intention is behind the message?

If you wish the person to carry out something really positive, or take something positive from the message, think about how you phrase it and how you portray it. Then you will consciously be aware of the influence you give the other person.

Looking for more help on improving your communication skills? Try this article:

Many thanks

Mark Williams

Head of Training

MTD Training | Management Blog | Image courtesy by Grant Cochrane of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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