“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Admit it. You used to chant that when you were younger every time some bully or nasty older student said something you didn’t like. As you ended high school, you probably did the same to other people. You gossiped, you said things behind their backs, or in front of them, if you were that courageous. You may have even tended to degrade those you though you could manhandle.
Now that you’re older, you have started to realize what a pain you were in middle school and high school.
After all that gossiping and making people feel down, you didn’t gain anything, except enemies. So, you told yourself that things are going to be different. This time, you want to start with how you deal with people: speech.
It is easy to say that you’ll be careful with your choice of words, or you’ll focus on the positive. The question is, can you do it? Positive speech is easier said than done, especially when you are used to gossips and speaking negatively. The good news is, it’s not too late. There is still a chance you can make your glass full by speaking positively, which can lead to a new and better you.
“Sure” And “Okay” Are Not The Same As “Yes”
When asked of something, how do you usually respond? Do you answer straight to the point or simply give a reply, which can be hard to decipher whether it’s a yes or no? If you are giving clear, concise answers all the time by saying “yes,” then there’s nothing to worry.
On the other hand, saying “sure,” “yeah,” or “okay” is not the same as yes. It’s as if you agree, but are reluctant to do so.
To be safe, you just say whatever comes into your mind, and it’s up to the receiver to figure out what you are trying to say. And yes, the difference may not be that much, but there is still a difference somewhere between the lines.
To start your journey towards positive speech, respond in a clear manner. If it’s yes, then say it out loud.
The “Yes, But …”
Okay, here comes the tricky part in the “Yes” category in positive speech.
So, you decide to get rid of the habit of saying “yeah” and “sure” and say “yes” all the time. Apparently, you always have a follow up after you say the word “yes.” Instead of saying “yes” then period, you now turn into a “Yes, but” person.
It may seem harmless, but the combination of these two words is simply a nice way of saying “No.” In fact, if the receiver weren’t paying too much attention to the words, they would not even notice that you are trying to discredit her idea. But if they have all the time in the world to decode your words, the “yes, but” combination can potentially lead to unhealthy conflict – and you don’t want that, right?
Oh, “yes, or” is a cousin of “yes, but,” so don’t bother using this combination, too. It also means you’re saying no, but in a different manner.
Sometimes, It’s All About The Tone
Here’s a challenge for you. Every time you talk to someone, listen carefully to your tone. Do you end it with an imaginary smile on your face or do you often hear yourself let out a big sigh, no matter how hard you try to be positive?
For instance, your daughter wants to eat ice cream because of the sunny weather. Since you are too busy doing something, you just said the word “yes,” but your tone suggests differently.
In fact, the tone of your voice is telling that “Don’t they get tired of eating ice cream?” Of course, your daughter won’t know what is going on in your mind. Surely, she will be happier if you respond by saying, “Yes, you can have ice cream,” and end it with a smile on your face.
In other words, your tone also plays an important role in the message you are trying to convey. Even if you respond positively or say something nice to someone, if the tone you use is a-matter-of-fact, or I’m-just-saying-this-so-you’ll-shut-up kind of tone, then you are not practicing positive speech. It would’ve been better if you just were honest or kept quiet. At least you won’t be hurting other people’s feelings.
Yes vs. No: Take Your Pick
Okay, this may seem like a no-brainer question, but choosing between saying yes or no can be challenging. Now you ask, “Does this mean you should say yes all the time to appreciate the effects of positive speak?” Of course not.
First of all, not everything deserves a yes and secondly, you should know better when to say this three-letter word.
You can say yes to certain ideas and principles that you believe will work.
On the other hand, saying yes all the time, even if there are opinions you disagree with, just to avoid conflict is unhealthy and unproductive. Plus, it will lead you nowhere, so you better speak up before it’s too late.
Consequently, saying no and being negative all the time isn’t healthy and productive, either. Being a “Negative Nancy,” which means you say no or “yes, but” or “yes, or” all the time, won’t foster good relationships. If you tend to distrust the people around you and never listen to their opinions and ideas, then you have a big problem.
Therefore, the key is to strike a balance between yes and no. During discussions, talk about the common grounds and mention the ideas you agree on first. This builds a stronger foundation, which can lead to healthy discussion and effective communication.
Next, talk about your concerns on areas you don’t agree on, with the emphasis on incorporating a positive tone. Raising your voice and acting like you are the best person in the world based on your tone won’t resolve anything.
Oh, and relax.
The Power Of Gossip
Have you heard of the Gossip Girl series? The outfits may be gorgeous and you just have to envy Blake Lively’s gorgeous legs, but try to look deeper into the context.
The show is full of gossip, lies and who dated who, which come to think of it, is not exactly setting a good example for the youth, especially in terms of positive speak.
Okay, fine. Gossip is part of the culture. In fact, your morning coffee would probably not be complete without talking about the latest news on this person. Even men gossip and believe it or not, they are worse than women when it comes to this department.
Sadly, spending half of your time gossiping and talking about someone behind their back is a bad, bad habit you need to get rid of fast. If you’re not too convinced, gossip can ruin every aspect of your life if you let this type of culture take over you – your relationships, career and even your sense of happiness.
At the same time, gossip ruins lives and reputations and can alienate friends. It can even affect family relationships in a negative way. If you’re not convinced, then watch how Blair Waldorf can take down people.
On the other hand, there is something you can do about this. Replace gossip and any other negative speech with positive speech.
Constantly remind yourself that talking about and making fun of other people’s lives has nothing to do with reaching your pinnacle of success. If it helps, stick this saying on your computer, bathroom mirror, or any area, which you constantly deal with.
“Judge the value of my words before I speak. Speak only what may benefit others and myself. Avoid gossip.”
No To Negative, YEs To Positive
Here comes another tricky part. When do you draw a line between being honest and eliminating the negative? How do you distinguish honesty from simply focusing on the positive aspect of things?
Well, it’s hard. But here are some tips you need to remember.
- Do Compliment. It will make the receiver feel more appreciated and at the same time, make them feel that you are paying attention to the things he or she is doing.
- Don’t Criticize. It’s your harsh way of telling someone he or she is unacceptable to you. At the same time, it destroys one’s self-worth and feed a culture of hurt and distrust.
- Do Use Affirming Words. It cultivate positive reciprocation and motivation.
- Don’t Point Out One’s Shortcoming Or Mistakes. Nobody is perfect, and so are you.
- Do Verbalize Your Appreciation In A Continuous Manner. It may not seem that much but saying “thank you” encourages better relationships among your family, friends, partner and peers. Plus, it’s just two words. You can say that out loud without hurting anyone.
- Don’t Nag. You are talking to an actual, real life person, not a robot. Sure, they may need some reminding from time to time, but say it in a nice way.
From this day onward, start the habit of incorporating positive speech in your daily life. It may take some time before you master this technique, but it’s sure going to be worth it in the end.