power in words

It’s worth thinking carefully before speaking, because there is power in words. A piece of research done by Albert Mehrabian is often misquoted to indicate that body language and tone of voice make up over 90% of the message. His research was to test a short emotional message and in those circumstances it is true that how you say the message makes a huge difference.

However, that widely-misquoted research has meant that many people do not take care in selecting their words. I want to show you that words and phraseology does make a difference. Consider these two sentences:

“I think that you could do it”

“I’m confident that you’ll do it.”

What reaction do you have to each? Does the first sentence leave you doubtful? Does the second sentence motivate you? Whatever your response, it’s likely to be different for each sentence. This is a simple demonstration of the power in words.

Problem focus or solution focus

Have you noticed that when you’re talking about problems or complaints you tend to feel down? Is that how you want to feel? If you want to feel more optimistic and resourceful, change how you talk about problems to being a statement of the situation and then focus your attention on looking for solutions. Ask “How?” questions to generate ideas, rather than “Why?” questions to dig into the problem.

Negative words

No-one likes being around people with a negative mindset, so find ways to express yourself positively. Turn around a seemingly dire position by asking, “How could this be the best thing that happened?” It might sound mad, when everything looks bleak, but at the very least you will look for the good or useful in the situation. That will cause you to view it differently and you may find new ways of dealing with it.

Positive and active

Change your language from doubtful to positive. Instead of “I’ll try to do that” say, “I’ll do that.” Notice the difference in impact – there’s a commitment to the latter that is lacking in the former. The language not only influences you, but also those you are communicating with.

Research shows that the brain doesn’t compute “don’t”, which explains why a five-year-old told, “don’t touch that!” immediately tries to touch it. This means that it is better to speak in active terms and be clear what you do want and then you are much more likely to get it. If you say “I don’t want to feel tired all the time” what will happen is that you will notice how tired you feel. Instead say, “I want to feel energised” and you will notice when you do have energy.

Make the most of the power in words

Pay attention to language, notice the impact and decide to use words that have the power to help you achieve great results. Be positive!

Do share your stories here or if you have any questions, please contact Amanda.

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