Speak positive!

Bootssteg Herrsching, Ammersee

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

One Reply to “Speak positive!”

  1. […] lament­ing, I’ll shut up, get myself a glass of Chi­anti Clas­si­co, and think about the first arti­cle in 2014. I would love to read your com­ments and to delve into a live­ly dis­cus­sion on the pos­i­tive aspects […]

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