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What is Positive Language?


I have heard lots of people discussing how we should use more positive language. Many people seem to interpret that as we should also only praise people (especially children).

I appear to be constantly aware of parents telling their little darlings about how good they are and how well they are doing when they clearly aren’t!

For me, just giving praise is being lazy. Use of positive language takes thought and care. It is the care required that, I think, puts some people off.

So, if the positive use of language isn’t about giving praise all of the time, what is it?

To answer this question I go back to my NLP training, the brain processes negatives as a 2 step process:

Step 1 – we identify the positive.

Step 2 – we negate it.

For example if you say to someone “Don’t think of a purple monkey” they first think of a purple monkey and then delete the image.

For some this is a seamless and instant process, for others there’s a gap between step 1 and step 2. If the process is interrupted then we are just left with the positive command. This is especially the case with children.

I recently visited a local beauty spot. The area had a very tall observation tower and I climbed to the top with my daughter. Whilst at the top we were joined by 3 very young children with no apparent adult supervision. About 2 minutes later a lady appeared at the top of the stairs, gasping for air and clearly upset. The first words she said were “I said don’t go up those stairs!”. I rest my case your honour.

Be aware of how many of these phrases you come across:

  • “In case of fire don’t use lift”
  • “Don’t drop litter”
  • “Don’t take it out on our staff”
  • “Don’t hesitate to contact me”

Let’s start a campaign to make the language we use more positive!

Tell others what you would like them to do – be positive!

  • “In case of fire use the stairs”
  • “Put litter in the bin”
  • “If you have a complaint, please speak to a manager”
  • “Feel free to contact me”

It does take a little more thought and effort and yet the rewards are we get more of the outcomes we want, more often!

Think about the language you use and blend in some positive care!

If you want to learn more then please contact me to find out how I can support you.

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