Staying positive in the face of seeming adversity takes effort to overcome, particularly in a business sense of dog-eat-dog oneupmanship of difficult situations. By making some simple switches to our everyday language we can trick even our good selves into a more upbeat frame of mind. Here are 5 basic tricks to try today to improve your outlook, and possibly even the culture of your company. It takes time to eliminate negative language patterns, so start right now and stick at it.
1. Instead of PROBLEM, use CHALLENGE
This is a simple one to get you started, to ease your way past the starting line of your wordreplacement journey. If you’re not a fan of the word ‘challenge’, try ‘situation’ - a strategy used by a dear friend of mine. (Do me a favour though and put on a strong Colombian accent for true authenticity’s sake.) Next time you find yourself thinking that you have a ‘problem’, just stop yourself and ask ‘is it really a problem?’
Yes, maybe at first it presents itself as a problem, so by converting it to a challenge you are already taking steps towards finding a solution. Because who doesn’t love the satisfaction of completing a challenge?
2. Instead of BUT, use AND
A tip which comes courtesy of a presentation from HR guru Avril Henry, and was one of those lightbulb moments when you realise the power that comes from changing one small word in a sentence. Picture in your mind a situation wherein a manager is giving feedback to someone in their team. Instead of saying ‘you completed this task, but next time you could do this’, change to ‘you completed this task, and next time you could do this’. Can you see the difference and the totally different approach that this one word brings? It moves from a sentence ending with a relatively negative connotation, to one which is more inclusive and geared towards a positive outcome for both the ongoing task and the employee. NB. Sometimes the word ‘but’ in a sentence just makes sense. Don’t beat yourself up about this one.
3. Instead of I WANT, use I WILL
Not so much for the present tense, more in terms of a future scenario. Again, this is a mindset thing.
It is as if you are letting the universe know by verbalising it that you will not stand for anything less. Here are a few ideas to get you started, in case you need a goal kick-start: ‘I want to buy a house’ > ‘I will buy a house’ ‘I want to run a marathon’ > ‘I will run a marathon’ ‘I want to have a cat that looks like Bowie’ > ‘I will have a cat that looks like Bowie’
4. Instead of OH S**T, use GREAT
By not going straight for your gut reaction, and uttering a different word (pretty much any positively-geared non-swear word will do) in an occurrence that feels like a despicable dog’s breakfast, your mind is tricked instantly into believing that it is not as bad as you first thought. Especially if you do it with a big smile on your face. And if you’re fooling yourself, then you are likely fooling your team or your colleagues - everyone’s a winner! Just try to give an authentic smile because otherwise there is a chance that they will think you are deranged.
5. Instead of I CAN’T, use I CAN’T YET
Do you know what? There’s loads of things that all of us can’t do. Loads. To not know how to do something is nothing to be ashamed of - surely authenticity and honesty count for more than random skills? So the next time you feel trapped because you don’t know how to do something, whether it be using the latest tech tool or even just turning on the blasted computer, then own it. If it is something you can’t do, admit that you can’t do it yet. You are hereby automatically adding to your goal list as well - things that you want to do, and will do (thanks to point 3).