Sunday, January 28, 2007

Use Language to Mainain a More Positive Attitude!

As a citizen of planet earth, it's sometimes hard to maintain a positive attitude. Did you know that, in all languages, there are more words to describe negative emotions than there are to describe positive emotions? The ratio is about 5:3 - meaning that for every 3 positive words you might hear, you'll hear 5 negative words. No wonder it seems like its an uphill battle for all but the most pragmatic optimists. You can read more here and here.

I've noticed that sometimes two people describe the same experience—positive or negative—in two completely different ways Maybe you talked about a “pretty” sunset while your spouse called the natural wonder “breathtaking.” Or perhaps one of your co-workers “needed clarity” after a meeting that left another “very frustrated.”
Imagine how your life would change if you were able to take all the negative emotions you ever felt and lower their intensity so they didn’t impact you as powerfully! Similarly, imagine what your life would be like if you could take your most positive emotions and multiply them tenfold.

Start by writing down three words that you use on an ongoing basis to intensify your negative feelings or emotions. Then, come up with alternative words or phrases that have a lower intensity.

Old word: depressed
New words: a little down, frustrated

Old word: overwhelmed
New words: in demand, full of opportunities

Now, write down three words you use to describe your experiences in a positive way, and come up with three alternative words that amplify those positive feelings. Get a friend to ensure you follow through by having her pay attention and tell you, if necessary, something like, “Are you okay, or are you fantastic?”

Old word: fine
New words: incredible, outrageous, outstanding

Old word: cute
New words: delicious, gorgeous, unbelievable

Here's a game you can play at work to get more of your team aware of avoiding negative language. Play 'Negative Language Bingo' and see how fast your employees start avoiding negative statements. Make up your own 'Positive Language Bingo' game to see how fast you can get those around you focused on the positive possibilities rather than just exclamations of how bad the problem is. Solution oriented not problem obsessed.

Commit to using a more positive vocabulary in 2007!


JoeBlogs said...

Interesting fact, Ill have to try beeven more positive.

the scoundrel said...

I have been through the positive word road philosophy before. Positive words are a very good tool when used at the right moment and place. But very often, negative words get a faster and better response to certain problems. The technique is identifying the situation, learning whom you are dealing with, choosing the right (positive and/or negative) words to motivate/sell and apply the composition to create a solution. And positive techniques are more difficult to get results with than negative techniques. Sure people like to get stroked with pretty conversation. But all the pretty words in the world leave less impression than one good hard kick in the butt with a good negative pitch. People remember a good slap to the ego. That is why politicians use negative ads. That is why negative comparison ads of rival products have success. It is also why even with a positive presentation it is good to include some negative reinforcement with you procedure. I try not to use much negativity on my blog. But if you look at the busiest blogs, nearly all deal with situations and issues in a negative approach, some contain a great deal more negativity than others. It seems that Extreme Dirt/Negativity sells and drives most of the political blogs. People/Sheep eat it up.

Dave said...

Sometimes a good kick in the pants is needed, I agree. My post mostly referred to managing yourself and your daily attitude.

Let's also look at this approach when managing others. Consider this. If you are a machinist in a factory or a salesman for nearly any product. If your boss is always negative and commanding you what to do every day, how long before you start looking for greener pastures? Either of the jobs are in plentiful supply if you have adequate skills and experience. There is no need to sugar coat what needs to be done, but it can be done in a serving manner. Getting results is the job of any leader and so is retaining the best employees.

In my experience, leading from a positive mindset will get more and better results faster and continually. A whack on the side of the head may get things done quickly, but you'll be posting new positions in the want ads a lot more often!

I'll leave the factual reality on blogs to the experts. Controversial and often negative statements will always get the most reaction from the opposing side. Just review the articles with the most comments on the QC Times, check out the Fox News ratings when Bill O'Reilly is on or watch any of the house proceedings.

I consider myself an optimist and will try to stay focused on solutions rather than dwell on the problems. That doesn't mean sticking my head in the sand either and I appreciate those out there keeping the problems visible so that we can focus our priorities.