I was rushing home New Year’s Eve day and remembered that my toe polish was chipped. I mean, truly, could there be a worse omen with which to start the new year? I pulled into a random nail shop on my way home (I’d have to make an appointment at my place and who had time?) and was greeted by a sign on the door that said, “Please do NOT ask for a nail technician by name. You will be assigned one.” Really?
I was going to leave right then and there until I remembered that I didn’t know a technician there to ask for by name. I got my toe polish changed but more than that, a new year’s blog post!
Dedicated to all those who would like to live a sweeter, nicer, more productive life, here are two simple truths (keep reading for how to apply them) to change your life:
Tell people what you can do (instead of what you can’t)
Tell people what they get to do (instead of what they can’t).
Action step: Tear down every sign and replace it with a more positive wording.
Right now, look around your work space and office. How many negative signs do you see? (They often couch themselves as being funny like: I only have time for one person today, and you aren’t it.
I’d like to help you out, which way did you come in?
Your mother doesn’t work here so clean up after yourself.)
Sometimes they’re just rude or demanding.
We don’t accept checks or charge cards. No shoes, no shirt, no service. No returns.
Surround yourself with positive thoughts!
Action step: Listen to your words.
Put a rubber band around your wrist and every time you say something negative, something that could easily be said in a more positive way, snap it. You’ll break your negative pattern in a hurry.
Listen for any variation of Murphy’s law (If it can go wrong around here, it will. Left to itself, things always go from bad to worse. No matter what line I stand on, it’s always the longest. The probability of anything happening is in inverse ratio to its desirability. Murphy was an optimist.) and the everyday undesirables like:
You’re wrong. I don’t know. I can’t do that. It isn’t my responsibility. It won’t work that way. What’s the catch (there has to be a catch)? Oh and my favorite: No problem (or: No problemo!).
Get your team to make up a list of the negative phrases around your office, post the list (and their kinder, cheerier replacements), and anyone heard saying any of the negative phrases, has to pay $1.00 into an office fund. End-of-week beer party!
Action step; Ask everyone to print out their last 5 emails and bring them to your next staff meeting.
Together, highlight any negative words used and ask the team to brainstorm how they could have made their message more inviting.
Here are some hints to help in your search:
Any sentence with the word NOT:
We do NOT offer
I canNOT attend
This room type does NOT provide
This will NOT work
This rate does NOT include
Say what you can offer, when you can attend, what the room type provides, etc. Write your ideas so that people know what the next step is (rather than what they shouldn’t do as a next step):
Don’t forget to submit your expenses within 30 days of the presentation.
Please submit your expenses within 30 days of the presentation.
You can’t be productive if you don’t have a plan.
Plan to increase productivity.
Partners are not invited to attend the working sessions.
Partners are invited to all sessions, other than working sessions.
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Change your words and you’ll change your word in 2012 – and beyond.
What suggestions do you have for more positive communications?