Person to Person: How To Put A Positive Spin On Your Language

Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The way you speak can potentially affect multiple areas of your life. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to improve the way you communicate both professionally and personally.


Do you realize your negative speech might be damaging your marriage? Or could your employees be reacting to your negative remarks by failing to do their best?

Any way you slice it, the fact is this: Positive language has a positive impact on every area of your life. It ignites hope and cooperation in other people. It’s one of your best tools, and it costs nothing.

“When I need to explain something in a more positive way to my husband, I practice first,” says a marriage counselor we’ll call Andrea. “You can sound phony, if you aren’t delivering your speech in a prepared way.”

Andrea says it helps to empower the person you want to impact. “Help that person feel there will be a better outcome than what you’re currently facing,” she insists.

An HR manager we’ll call Paul says his grandfather taught him this: Over time, words have more power than bullets or bombs. Make sure you take ownership of your speech and try to change lives with it.

Paul recently taught a seminar on how to put a positive spin on your words.

Here’s the advice he gave:
— Speak as if the whole world is watching you. Pretend others will judge how honorable you are. Also, pretend they’ll judge how effective you are in helping other people.

— Never lie. Never, ever stoop to giving employees, your children or your spouse false information. Give them the hard truth, or they’ll never trust you once you’ve been caught.

— Explain your motive to have a good outcome. For example, tell your employees, “Your pay is way too low right now, but once our grant money arrives, this nonprofit will make it a priority to give all of you a raise.”

— Invite other people to share positive solutions with you. If your husband is complaining that your unemployed brother is overstaying his welcome, say, “I would like to know your ideas on helping him find a job. Can you help to open some doors, so this all turns out well?”

Language is very powerful in bringing about change, if you monitor your speech.

For example, if money is tight at your house, tell your family, “We’ll plan a nice, inexpensive vacation by going camping. We’ll take along some board games and do some hiking.” Help others see that you have a true plan in place.

To back up your plan, encourage your spouse and kids to kick in ideas. Help them “own” the outcome of your promise to create a fun, inexpensive trip for the group. Ask each person, “What do you think would make this trip a great one?”

A high school math teacher we’ll call Edward says he uses positive language to steer his students.

“I tell my students to speak up early if they need help,” Edward explains. “I tell them that I’ll find them a tutor or other resources, but they can’t pretend all is well if it’s not!

“Being positive doesn’t mean we tell ourselves lies,” he laughs. “Being positive means we try hard to correct what isn’t working. It means we take responsibility for every step in our lives.”

A bankruptcy attorney we’ll call Jay says he provides encouragement constantly. “I tell my clients to focus on building back their credit rating,” he emphasizes. “Encouragement is as simple as explaining they’ll get a fresh start in court. I share ideas for how they can rebuild their future.”

(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Café at Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)
©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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