Feel like you ask for things and never get them? It could be down to the words you use. A new book promises to teach you what to say to get what you want, when you want it-every time.
Want to improve your chances of happiness and success? Put aside ideas of expensive life coaches or dramatic life makeovers because, according to a new book, it could be as simple as changing the words you use. Author Andrea Gardner believes we all have the ability to master language to our own advantage-with life-changing results. YouTube is buzzing with a viral video created by Gardner, which backs up the power of positive phrasing and delivery. The Power Of Words tells the story of a beggar who barely makes an impact on passers-by with a sign that reads: “I’m blind. Please help.” Eventually, a woman picks up the sign and writes something on the other side. When she returns a few hours later, the beggar tells her that he has been receiving donations non-stop. “What did you do to my sign?” he asks in wonder. “I wrote the same thing but in different words,” she replies. The words were: ‘It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.’
Gardner’s lesson is that it is not what you say, but how you say it. When you are trying to persuade someone or just express your point of view clearly and convincingly, the key to success is to harness the power of the words you choose. Appealing to people’s emotions through the words you use always help get your point across – it’s a fact that advertising and marketing companies have been aware of for years. Now it’s your turn to learn the five tricks for mastering the power of language.
1. Speak slowly, double the impact
Speaking more slowly-up to half the speed you usually talk at-can have dramatic effects. First, slowing down will give your inner judgment time to assess what you’re going to say. Second, it will make you easier to understand. When you garble words, your point gets lost in a sea of chatter. As Gardner puts it, “If we deliberately slow down our speech, we not only increase the listener’s comprehension and stress.” Pausing momentarily between words – as public speakers do – helps you make your point dynamically and memorably.
2. Turn negatives into positives
Transform your speech by employing the ‘optimism twist’. Before you open your mouth to grumble-to a boss, and employee, a friend or your partner-do the opposite: turn the negative thought into a positive one. For example, instead of complaining how bad your deal is, or how disappointed you are about something, say what you’d like the situations to be or what you aspire to be. Gardner believes that using only positive words-for example, ‘What I think is great is…’ or ‘What I find inspiring is…’-will not only make you feel better, but will also promote happiness and positive feelings in the person you’re speaking to, and get you results.
To-do lists, too, should always be filled with positive words to encourage success. So instead of the negative ‘stop’ or ‘quit’, try using the more inspirational ‘create’, ‘build’ or ‘improve’.
3. Remember how words make you feel
Word’s don’t just have straight definitions; they also have nuances. When you’re talking about money, for example (be it borrowing it, or asking for more pay), replace words like ‘debt’ or ‘poor’ or ‘undervalued’ with words that evoke positive financial experiences-even if you are using those words subtly. For example, “I have a wealth of experience that enriches the team.” These words have positive financial connotations, so can inspire positive financial results.
You can also use the power of negative words to achieve the results, Gardner points out, as certain words encourage fear or anxiety. For example, using the words, ‘shock’, ‘pain’, or ‘nightmare’ is going to make people sense and act on the urgency of the situations, even if you are talking about something quite innocuous, like trying to get your plumber to come sooner.
4. Replace ‘but’ with ‘and’
‘But’ is the ultimate limiting word, according to Gardner – it’s just an excuse for not moving forward. Try changing your sentence from, “I’d like to lose weight BUT I hate exercise,” to “I’d like to lose weight AND I hate exercise.” That way, you force yourself to solve the conundrum. Using ‘and’ rather than ‘but’ puts you in the driving seat and encourages action rather than impassivity.
5. Practise speaking with confidence
Borrow a technique from public speakers and summon your own positive thoughts around words. Gardner suggests practising saying “yes” or “no” in front of mirror. You will then be able to recall this practised self-assurance when you need to use the words in real situations-to your immense benefit. Just like a stage actor who’s learned a script, summoning up practised speech is always easier. And when you’re complimented, commit the flattery to memory and accumulate these memories to strengthen you whenever you need it. Did someone once tell you that you have a great smile? Or engaging eyes? Remembering this is useful when you next speak to some about something important.