Today, I stumbled upon an article by Tom and David Kelley, from IDEO. It’s an excerpt from their book ‘Creative Confidence’ in which they describe the effects of positive language not only in corporate environments, but on human beings in general:
Language is the crystallization of thought. But the words we choose do more than just reflect our thought patterns—they shape them. What we say—and how we say it—can deeply affect a company’s culture.
We find many different versions of this “Thoughts-Become-Words-Become-Actions” theory. Some you might label ‘esoteric’, others appear somewhat cheesy: especially those self-help guides which recommend to only think about success in order to realize it. Everybody might find her individual approach to that theory — the common denominator of all those varieties is to change your own behavior, your language, to the positive.
I’ve been changing my own more negative speech patterns into positive ones for about a year now and the implications are clearly visible: my conversational partners react more friendly or just less stressed and discusssions become more fruitful. I’m seeing this effect in my professional environment, but also in private — my kids have begun mimicking this style (Just try this experiment: swap four-letter-words with very soft expressions of anger — and you will see that your kids start using those softer expressions). It might sound too easy, but for me, it works: changing personal language patterns to the positive results in better conversations, less stress and better performance in business and private environments.
There is another aspect of switching to positive language: dismissimg negative communication altogether: the mother of a friend of mine used to tell him not to say something negative, if that was the only thought which came into his mind in this situation. I follow this advice when being on Twitter: if I get annoyed about a tweet and my spontaneous reaction would be some harsh and negative critique — I don’t tweet and I don’t take it that seriously any more. The effect for me: I save time, I don’t get angry — and there is no dirty discussion on Twitter annoying everybody else.
Photo: Herrsching, Ammersee