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7 Things Not to Say, and 7 Things to Start Saying

7 Things Not to Say, and 7 Things to Start Saying

Are you aware just how much impact the words you use on a daily basis have on your mood and your life in general?

Have you noticed the type of language you use? Not just verbally, but within your inner thoughts as well?

Language is a very powerful tool when it comes to mood control—both for ourselves and for those around us. It really can make the difference between a happy day and a stressful day, and below, I’ll give you some examples at to why this is.

As with many things, the first step is awareness; most people are blissfully unaware of how they speak, both internally and externally, so make a start by paying extra attention to what you’re saying both mentally, and aloud. Consider whether you’re using positive language or negative language. Are you really aware of exactly what you’re saying and how you’re phrasing your words?

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I’ve spent some time studying quantum linguistics, and there are a few common phrases that people use without realising just how negative they are. And when we think negatively, guess what? The negative thoughts spiral into negative actions, which then tun into real-life situations and problems. If we can nip those negative thoughts in the bud, we can save ourselves a whole lot of pain in the long run.

Here are 7 useless phrases to leave behind, and 7 useful phrases to start saying so you can start using language to your advantage!

7 Things to Avoid Saying

1. “I can’t…”

“Can’t” is a debilitating word that puts up a barrier between you and your goals—it’s like you’ve almost failed before you’ve begun. Someone very wise once said to me that there’s no such word as “can’t”. That’s a great way to look at things; give yourself a chance for success by ditching the word completely.

2. “I’ll try”

Have you ever “tried” to stand up. Try it now. Try to stand up. Did you do it? No, because it’s not possible to “try” and do something. When we say “I’ll try”, what we’re really saying is that we’re not ready to commit. As Yoda from Star Wars once said: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

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3. “I wish I didn’t have to…”

Otherwise known as moaning. No one likes to listen to someone groan on, and plus, it’s pointless to do so. If you don’t like something, then take action and change your situation. Otherwise, you might as well get on with life with a smile on your face!

4. “I should…”

The word “should” is inherently negative. “Should” implies a lose: lose situation and it’s just not conducive to positive outcomes in life. It’s a form of criticism, and it’s best left out of your everyday language. Instead of beating yourself up for what you should have done, focus on what you have the power to change.

5. “I need…”

How often do you proclaim a “need” for something, versus how often you genuinely need it? The word “need” creates an unhealthy dependency. The next time you hear yourself say this, have a re-think to determine if you really need what you’re talking about. If you don’t, then let go and minimize any negativity.

6. Pessimistic greetings like “Not bad” or “could be worse.”

I hear this all the time! So many people feel the need to buy into these common phrases without even thinking about what they are saying. They are so negative! Why not say something positive, or at least be honest? (There’s nothing worse than saying you’re “great” all the time if that’s not how you really feel.)

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7. “Never.”

The word “never” creates immediate restrictions on your life, and when we say that word, it’s very rarely an accurate reflection of the choices that are available to us. It closes our mind to solutions and creates unnecessary limits. Decide today to never say never again!

7 Things to Start Saying

1. “YES!”

Entrepreneur Richard Branson claims that making a conscious decision to say “yes” to more things is one of his secrets for success. Next time your natural instinct is to say no, try saying yes instead. Open your mind to a whole new world of possibilities and watch as your life suddenly becomes much more interesting.

2. “I’m lucky / grateful…”

It’s been proven that gratitude can relieve symptoms of depression and unhappiness. Before I go to sleep, I like to remind myself of 3 things each day that I’m grateful for, or lucky to have in my life. This is a nice way to go to bed with positive thoughts instead of being kept awake by worries or fears.

3. “I Will.”

This is a great replacement for “I’ll try”. Consider for a moment how much more powerful the words “I will” are, compared to “I’ll try”. By saying “I will”, you’re really committing to something and your goals suddenly feel possible. Don’t worry too much about whether you actually reach the goals or not—this is about you setting yourself up for success, not failure.

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4. “What if?”

This is a great alternative to words like “never” or “impossible”. Instead of limiting us, the phrase “what if?” creates possibility. It encourages solution-oriented thinking, which helps us to solve problems. The next time you feel as though a situation is hopeless, try asking yourself “what if?” and see what solutions pop up.

5. Positive Greetings such as “I’m well.”

Instead of saying “not bad” or “could be worse” when someone asks you how you are, try a simple “I’m well, thankyou” instead. Alternately, if you’re not having a great day, be honest but with a positive spin—“I’m not having the best day but I’m sure tomorrow will be better.”

6. Positive instructions such as “Remember to…”

If I said to you “Don’t think about a pink elephant” right now what did you just think of?  A pink elephant, right? So we’re actually thinking about the very thing we want to avoid. This can be really dangerous when we use instructions such as “don’t forget to pay the bills today” because all our brain hears is “forget to pay the bills!” If we flip our language so it’s positive, however, we get much better results. If you want to remember something, then tell yourself just that, instead of what you don’t want to do.

7. “Things could be worse…”

The next time you find yourself in a challenging situation, try re-framing your problem by comparing it to something worse. This is a great way to minimise the size of your problems. When we put things into context, we can gain perspective and suddenly our problems don’t feel as bad.

More by this author

Zoe B

A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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