- Four Minute University
- Stop using negative language
Stop using negative language
Positive phrases help us speak more clearly
Imagine this: you’re with your friend on a hike in the jungle.
You need to cross a rope bridge to get where you’re going.
The rope bridge is wide enough for 1 person to walk on.
The bridge hangs 100 feet over a river.
Your friend is scared of heights.
They don’t want to cross the rope bridge.
They’re scared of falling into the water.
There’s no other way to get to where you’re going.
You need to cross the rope bridge.
What do you say to help get your friend get across?
Don’t look down.
Far too often, we use negative language.
Don’t do this. Stop that. Not now. No.
We use it for nearly everything.
Even the title of this post is Stop using negative language.
It’s not that effective.
It’s harder for our brains to process what you really mean.
We hear what we’re not supposed to do instead of what we should do.
We tend to remember the words without the negative.
Crossing the bridge
Remember what we said to help our friend help cross the bridge?
Don’t look down.
What do you think they will remember and repeat to themselves as they cross the bridge?
don’t Look down.
They’ll quickly forget the negative language and only focus on your other words.
What could we say instead to help them?
Only look forward.
See the difference?
We focus our words on the action we want someone to take.
Why we are negative
We use negative language in part because we think it helps to be direct.
It’s a lot easier to tell someone not to do something than telling them what to do.
Don’t change the channel.
Don’t touch that.
Are we there yet? No.
It’s to the point.
But while it’s an easy message to send, it’s a hard one to receive.
We want to be told what to do instead of what not to do.
Count how many times you use negative language in a day.
Write them down.
Then ask yourself how you can rephrase those words into something more positive.
Try to change one negative phrase into a positive one.
Then add another the next day.
And continue the streak.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent most of your life using negative language and thought nothing about it.
It’s difficult to catch yourself in the act, unlearn and then relearn a new way to say something.
It’ll always be a work in progress, but you can do it.
Remember: don’t look down only look forward.
Thanks for reading.
See you next week,