Sometimes the message that your words communicate is not the one that you intended.

When you hear words and phrases like “no,” “I have to,” “that won’t work,” how do they make you feel? Do you find them bringing you down a bit, perhaps bringing up some negative feelings? Though that may not be the intention, often how we say things is just as important as what we’re saying. The above are examples of negative language, and it can instantly change the tone of a conversation from constructive to frustrating and disengaged. On the contrary, positive language communicates a story of enthusiasm and intent. When it comes to building your personal brand and your sphere of influence, positive language is crucial to your success.

Your personal brand matters for your influence and credibility, both personally and professionally, and the words you use have tremendous impact over how others perceive you. People tend to want to work with people they like, with likability heavily driving influence. We tend to avoid really negative people because they bring us down and make us feel bad, whereas positive people tend to lift us up and motivate us. This is especially crucial when working in a customer-facing role. You want customers to want to interact with you, and if you’re constantly speaking negatively, they’ll likely start avoiding doing business with you.

Negative language can reveal negative self beliefs and can even cause our subconscious to respond in a way that shapes our reality. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, negative language can make those feelings worse. By constantly saying things like “no” or “I can’t,” you’re shaping how you view the situation and the reality of it. Positive language, on the flip side, can change your perspective for the better. Try replacing some of your knee-jerk negative thoughts/words with their positive counterparts:

Instead of “sure,” try “absolutely!”

Instead of “I cant,” try “I will.”

Instead of “I have to,” try “I choose to.”

Instead of “Yes, but…” try “Yes, and…”

Instead of “I must,” try “I want.”

Ultimately, using positive language over negative language requires some discipline. Below are four steps that you can take every day to consciously use more positive language:

  1. Monitor your self talk. We’re constantly talking to ourselves, and your external dialogue begins with your inner one. Make sure that your internal dialogue is positive.
  2. Create some psychological space. When something happens to us out of the blue, it’s easy to have a knee-jerk negative reaction. Pause, take some deep breaths, count to 6, ask some questions — whatever you need to do to create space between the event and your reaction to it before you allow yourself respond to it.
  3. Choose the positive response. Make a decision in the moment that looks through the situation in a positive (or at least neutral) frame. Instead of placing blame on others, take ownership for improving things. Consciously strive to communicate optimism and confidence.
  4. Become a positive contagion. We tend to mirror those who we spend the most time with, so make sure that when people are mirroring you, they’re displaying your positive, healthy behaviors. Your attitude and energy affects others, so strive to lift others up rather than bring them down.

These above four ideas will help you improve your productivity and increase your sphere of influence.

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