Using Positive Language

Positive LanguageWhile we normally use our blog to provide useful information on a wide variety of commercial and industrial fasteners, tools and other products, we thought it appropriate to switch gears briefly in response to the current social, political and economic environment and talk about how we all communicate and the importance of using positive language. There is no better time than right now to think about how to improve our communications. 

So what is “positive language”? It is the art of using words and phrases to communicate a positive, supportive tone to your employees, customers, and anyone else you meet. Using positive language is important for building rapport with others. It makes a huge impact on the way you are perceived as a manager, coworker, customer, partner, or supplier. Positive language lets someone know what you can do instead of what you can’t do. It shows that you care and that you’re empathetic. Positive language can be especially helpful if you have to deliver bad news or say “no” to someone. 

Language is an exceptionally powerful tool.  Whether you communicate orally or in written form, the way you express yourself will determine whether your message is received positively or negatively. This, of course, can have a critical impact on your relationship with customers, prospects, and the business partners or vendors we all rely on to successfully conduct our businesses. 

Business consultant and author Robert Bacal has assembled a helpful list of basic characteristics of both positive and negative language to help us determine what kind of language we tend to use (often without knowing it) so that we can improve our usage and communicate more positively and effectively. 

Negative phrasing and language often have the following characteristics: 

  • tells the recipient what cannot be done
  • has a subtle tone of blame
  • includes words like can’t, won’t, unable to, that tell the recipient what the sending agency cannot do
  • does not stress positive actions that would be appropriate, or positive consequences  

Positive phrasing and language have the following qualities: 

  • tells the recipient what can be done
  • suggests alternatives and choices available to the recipient
  • sounds helpful and encouraging rather than bureaucratic
  • stresses positive actions and positive consequences that can be anticipated.

 Negative language conveys a poor image to customers and those around us. It can cause conflict and confrontation where none is necessary or desired and unintentionally create a less-than-productive work environment that can negatively affect not only employee morale and effectiveness, but your company’s bottom line as well.  

The first place to start using positive language is in written communications. Be aware of the language you’re using in your next email, customer inquiry response, sales presentation. Read what you’ve written and look carefully at your word choices – are there more negative words and phrases than positive ones? Once you’ve developed the knack of writing positively, it will be easier to change your spoken language to present a more positive tone. You may be surprised at the responses you get from co-workers, customers, and even family and friends. Best of all, positivity is contagious.