Friday, June 25, 2010

Positive Language – Negative Language: The Slippery Slope

I just eavesdropped on a conversation in the common kitchen area in the office where I work. Two co-workers greeted each other as they both entered the area to make use of the facilities, and the female said to the male “How are you doing? Are you doing anything fun over the weekend?” Seems like a very positive and upbeat beginning to a short pleasant and superficial conversation, right? Well, here is how it progressed:

Male: “Well, we’re not doing much of anything this weekend, but NEXT weekend we are going camping.”

Female: “Oh, camping – and next weekend – that will be over Fourth of July. That will be a long weekend! Are you an avid camper?

Male: “Yes – we are looking forward to it – and the long weekend. Yes, since I was a little kid, my family have been very active campers. How about you – do you camp at all?”

Female: “Yes – my husband and I used to camp. We had a camper, and my husband was the one who did all the set up and such. It was always such a chore for him and it took hours to get everything set up before he could even enjoy any of it. We only did it for a short while – it was just too much work.”

Male: “Yes – I can totally understand that.”

Female: “ ...and it is such a pain to set up or tear down everything when it is hot or is raining....”

Male: “Yep – you’re sure right about that. Well, have a good day.” (Leaves with coffee)

I didn’t look at the people during the exchange, and didn’t have to. You can look at the words on the page and tell where the faces of the people changed from pleasantly smiling and conversational to sullen, serious and opinionated. The effort that the female felt compelled to make to engage a fellow employee in polite conversation quickly deteriorated to a negatively-toned conversation about the downfalls of an activity that the male was obviously enthusiastic and excited about. Needless to say, were I the male, I would store the information I learned away for future reference – no sharing camping stories with this female co-worker.

This is a story that generously supports a strategy that I whole-heartedly agree with and try very hard to practice in my daily life. Use positive words. If you use positive words, your INSIDES will FEEL positive – your mind will feel calmer and more clear, your heart will feel more full and your attitude will be more kind and generous.

I came to this after a very good discussion with a person I know who illustrated how NEGATIVITY comes to manifest in people...anger inside becomes a physical stance of negativity (slouched shoulders, clenched fists, frowns and the physical feeling of hot anger in your stomach or tightness in your chest). The physical manifestation of negativity causes physical actions and reactions to situations that are negative (a guy pulls in front of you in traffic, you flip him the “bird”) and also causes you to use negative words (when you curse the guy out while you flip him the bird). By interrupting these things and making the conscious decision to change to a positive approach(breathe deep and calm yourself, allow others to make mistakes and don’t make them a personal affront to you, and THINK about the words you use), you can keep yourself from falling into the negativity trap and ending up being the Eeyore or “Debbie Downer” in your conversations and encounters. I know from my own experiences that now that I am really thinking about this, I am more sensitive to when conversations are heading in that direction, and I now proactively try to use positive language to “lift” myself and the person I am talking to, so that we don’t head down that very slippery negativity slope.

Well, that’s it for now...think happy, think positive and so you shall be.

Lots of love to you


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