Using negative statements can sabotage your own interests in conversation with clients, teachers, family members or coworkers. You can make your communication more positive by replacing a negative word or reworking your statement completely.
Beware of Negative Words
There are simple negative words, such as "no" or "not," but some negative terms -- such as "should" -- are less obvious. For example, the sentence "You need to send the remaining two documents in order for us to complete your order" could be construed as negative based on the words "need to." These words make people feel that they're being coerced. Using the word "mistake" in reference to someone's behavior implies blame and is therefore negative.
Choose More Positive Alternatives
Find positive alternatives to the negative words you tend to use. For example, you can say "Once we receive the remaining two documents, we can process your order" and "That's an issue we can tackle together." Rather than making the listener feeling coerced or blamed, these statements provide the listener with information and give the impression that you're both on the same team, and that you wish to help as much as possible.
Focus on the Positive
You can usually turn a negative sentence around by taking a few seconds to think about the positive side of the situation. For example, rather than saying "I can't meet with you on Monday," try saying "I'll be out of town on Monday, but I can meet with you on Tuesday. Does that work for you?" If the listener disagrees with you, find something that you do agree on, and go from there: "Yes, Dan is definitely an imaginative child with a great sense of humor. I do feel that his current behavior is due to more than just a desire to make class more fun, though. Let me explain my point of view."
Subordination is a powerful tool that can help you minimize the negative impact of a statement. You will want to use a subordinating conjunction, such as "although," "because" or "with." For example, you can change the sentence "You should be proud of your grades, but they are not high enough to make the dean's list" to "Although your grades are not high enough to make dean's list, you should be proud of them." Putting the negative statement into the subject or object of the sentence can also subordinate it. For example, take a look at the following sentence: "Women are underrepresented in our company, but we hope to change that in the future." You can improve the negative impact of this statement by changing it to "We plan to address the issue that women are unrepresented in our company in the future. Here's how."
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