People hate negative language.
We are emotional creatures.
Our emotions understand the positive and negative connotations behind words. Positive language elicits a warm, energetic, and smooth flow to your interactions. Negative language imparts anxiousness, fear, doubt, and dejection.
Why is this important?
Conversation is a transfer of ideas and feelings. 80% of ideas are forgotten, yet sentiment remains. It’s partly what you say but more so how you say it.
This article will show you how to build rapport with positive language.
Negative Language Creates Dissonance
Conversation is a flowing river. Throw a rock into the stream, and flow is disrupted. Negative language is the rock. Words such as ‘no’, ‘not’, ‘don’t, ‘won’t, ‘can’t, etc. impart a shock to the mind; the shock disappears, but the feeling remains.
In my experience, people hate being told what is ‘not’. They want what is.
Recall the moments you were rejected, chastised, or were told no. Negative language permeates.
I remember when I was rejected by my crush.
I remember being told my grades paled in comparison to a friend’s.
I remember being yelled at for being 5 minutes late to work.
Sometimes, our efforts lag.
Sometimes, we screw up.
Yet, only few screw-ups are remembered and still bring out emotion. You remember them because of the emotionally charged language.
This hits introverts the hardest because we process information with an internal thought system. We adapt for future decisions and negative language factors heavily into our behavior.
Unfortunately, criticism has a negative stigma. It is seen as an attack on one’s character.
People cannot distinguish feedback from personal attack.
Almost any perceived negativity (on your part) tarnishes your reputation.
Fortunately, we bypass negativity by replacing negative words with positive ones.
“Be careful what you say. You can say something hurtful in ten seconds, but ten years later, the wounds are still there.”
Positive Language Builds Rapport
Positive language incorporates the ‘can’, ‘will’, and ‘ables’ of vocabulary.
This type of language builds rapport.
Rapport is a harmonious relationship in which people involved understand and can communicate ideas, feelings, and values.
Positive language stimulates the flow of rapport by minimizing disruption caused due to emotional barriers.
An angry or disturbed person is not able to participate in conducive activities or ideas because their emotions high-jacked their state-of-being.
For example, children under emotional distress react poorly to communication afterward.
This process requires a slight alteration of your thought processes. Introverts have a higher chance of success as this trait allows us to recognize pitfalls and adjust.
There are infinite ways to communicate your ideas. Your purpose is to limit negative words to explain your thoughts.
‘No’ or ‘not’, should be eliminated as much as possible.
How Introverts Can Use Positive Language
Positive language must be practiced; its usefulness matches its versatility.
For example, you receive a report from an analyst, but notice its poor quality. The typical answer:
“Your report does not measure up.”
It is fine. However, most people (internally) interpret this, a personal attack. Instead, say:
“Your report needs a touch up here and here.”
A simple answer. You are conveying the same message in these last two sentences; the report is sub-par.
However, the second sentence ends on an upward trajectory to rapport.
Let’s say, you and friend argue over an idea. You disagree with him and say:
“I don’t agree with you.”
Reasonable to say so. But, ‘don’t’ is emotionally charged as it creates contrast; contrast leads to tension. You CAN disagree while maintaining a positive note in the conversation.
This sentence is an improvement because it lacks the ‘n’ word.
There is one more way.
“You make an interesting point. However…”
This sentence implies: you attempted to understand his point of view, yet differ in some perspective. The person will subconsciously appreciate the respect shown to him. It builds rapport. Let’s try another:
1. This is not the right way to do this.
2. Good try. Here’s a better method.
3. There is a better way to do this.
4. You did this incorrectly.
Which sentence utilizes positive language to its potential?
#4, I consider the worst. It emphasizes YOU and your inability to complete the task. Most would consider this an indirect attack.
#1 is usually the go-to response. It removes the person from the fault yet includes ‘not’ which creates dissonance in the mind.
#3 is better. It recognizes the error and focuses on solving the problem and not putting anyone down.
#2 is best.
Can you guess why?
Yes, it recognizes effort put into the task (assuming real effort was put into it).
George Patton stated, “if a man does his best, what else is there?”
The task remains incomplete, but required time, which will never replenish. You can acknowledge and motivate or dismiss it.
Some of you wonder why such language is needed. I can hear it:
“People today are soft!”
“You need participation medals?”
“Only truth matters!”
“It’s quicker to say what’s on my mind!”
“Back in my day-“
I get it.
I’ve been there on both sides. All of us have.
I am here to teach; judgment implies I stand on a moral high ground.
The choice is yours.
I teach Taekwondo on the side, and let me tell you: kids, teenagers, and adults respond wonderfully with positive language. They know when they fall short and where their efforts lack. My task is to help them through those tough times and this technique is the one I choose because it encourages them.
Remember that small choices can impact the day-to-day lives of others.
Your language contains the power to alter minds, to ease suffering, and to inspire.
No Is A Last Resort
Some people are so thick-headed, only an outright “NO!” will penetrate their wall of ignorance. An example:
Bob: “We are looking to help you secure your retirement.”
You: “I already have a financial advisor. Thanks.”
Bob: “That’s great! However, you could always use a second opinion.”
You: “I’m not interested.”
Pushy salespeople are well-known for persistence (I would know; I’ve been one). Sometimes, introverts have to be direct to get the point across.
Remove Negative Vibes, Not Ideas
Sometimes, topics of discussion venture into uncomfortable territories. Nothing wrong with it. You can still use positive language. For example,
Al: “Bob is a jerk”
You: “Yeah, Bob is not a good guy.”
Al: “Bob is a jerk”
You: “Yeah, he is mean-spirited lately.”
You may wonder, “why use positive language, even when it has 0 consequences?”
Remember: People like being told what is rather than what isn’t.
You build a higher rapport because you:
A: Agree with the speaker.
B: Remove the dissonance.
People HATE “no”, regardless of context.
Positive language initiates positive direction.
To save time and brainpower, use positive language for people who deserve it.
It takes effort to re-wire your thought process to produce positive sentences.
Save it for those who – I’m generalizing here – try to improve themselves (in the context it applies to).
Is an employee frequently producing sub-standard work? Call them out.
Positive language creates harmony and rapport between speakers. Whether between old friends or strangers, it ensures both speakers are on the same wavelength.
This is a powerful tool because it is underutilized by the population. A simple change in attitude will put Introverts far ahead of the rest.
Before finishing, have you experienced negative language? Do you still remember the harsh language used on you earlier in life? I would love to hear your life experience in the comment section.
“If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths. Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts. We can always replace negative with positive.”