For leaders wanting to create and sustain a positive, motivated work culture, using the right kind of language is essential. The language we use can affect how the message is perceived. The choice to use positive language is a great way to instantly create good impressions and lift the energy in a workplace. Using positive language, even when conveying adversities, can help to improve communication, reduce workplace tension, increase motivation of staff and build report.
Think of a time when you met someone for the first time, perhaps someone you interviewed. As the saying goes first impressions are lasting and no doubt your impression of that person was formed largely by the language they chose to use. When we choose to use positive language over negative language or even neutral language, the impression we make on the recipient is far better. When someone is positive and upbeat when relaying life experiences, you have an immediate insight into their energy levels, their outlook on life and their ability to bounce back from adversities.
Positive vs Negative language
It can be challenging for leaders to use positive language in difficult situations. It’s not about brushing over issues and problems, it’s about addressing them in a way that doesn’t totally demotivate and upset staff, but seeks to find better ways of doing things, handling things differently and moving forward in a supportive and positive way.
Positive language focusses on what canbe done, suggests alternatives and choices and is helpful and encouraging.
Negative language focusses onwhat can’t be done, has a subtle or obvious tone of blame and emphasises negative consequences.
Some of the most common negative words/ phrases that I see managers use all the time and to avoid are: “However..”, “Yeah, but..” and “No”. As a leader, I highly recommend avoiding these phrases/ words in your communication with your team and colleagues. We use them so often and the impact they have is huge, and not in a good way. Imagine replacing this language with “How might we” or “You are completely right that did happen.
How might we ….”. This is a great example of a positive way to address a challenging topic. Let’s break down just how effective this phrase actually is.
The HOW implies that something will happen, with the method yet to be discovered by the collective team.
The MIGHT implies that something could happen and it actively invites new ideas whilst also removing any feeling of shame if the idea is not ultimately used.
The WE implies a collaborative approach and the likelihood that an eventual decision will be supported by the whole team.
Look for insights into future employees through the language they use
It’s important when you are looking to recruit someone to join your team that you hire the right ‘fit’. Skills and experience are important but to maintain the cultural well-being of your team, it’s vital you add positive people to it. Positivity, energy, genuine enthusiasm and resilience are certainly the attributes you want to be looking for in a person. Someone that uses positive language to describe their skills and experience in an interview gives you a good insight into their ability to do their job in an upbeat and cooperative way. If you find yourself in a situation where you have one candidate with better experience and skills and one who has more positive outlook, you would potentially do better to hire the more positive person. It could pay off to provide some on-the-job training to the enthusiastic but less experienced person than hire someone more skilled but with a less positive disposition. After all that person is going to be joining your team and you are reliant on their ability to work well within the team. Positivity is a critical factor in determining a motivated, well-functioning team working towards common goals. Next time you interview someone, take notice of the language they choose to use. When you greet them and ask them how they are do they say “Really great” or “not too bad”? Even their response to this simple question can give you a good insight into their ability to be upbeat and positive in the workplace.
Having a culture whereby positive language is used allows businesses to grow and remain optimistic even in times of hardship. It encourages, acknowledges and motivates. Choosing the right words to use in any given situation is crucial to achieving the results you seek. Don’t underestimate the huge impact just one negative word can have not only on individuals, but on your entire organisation. Leading and responding to conversations by using positive language will result in happier, more fulfilled and more motivated employees.
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