The following session was the first in our Tea Time Tips Series. Session one, mind your language, is not about swear words. It’s all about negative language and the devastating impact it can have on people’s lives – including your own.
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Mind your language – negative language and self-talk video
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Mind your language – negative language and self-talk full transcript
Please note the numbers in the headings refer to the video timestamps in case you want to jump to an area of specific interest to you.
Hi, everybody, I’m Jane Tweedy and I’m from FAQ Business Training. Today is our first tea time tip. Today’s tea time tip is part of International Coaching Week and as part of International Coaching Week. I wanted to talk about something that comes up a lot in coaching, and it’s the way that we talk to ourselves, talk about ourselves and the way that we talk about other people and the impacts that that can have on their lives. Today we are going to be talking about…
00:30 Why language is extremely powerful in a positive way and a negative way
Minding your P’s and Q’s, why language is extremely powerful in a positive way and not such a positive way. So why does it matter what we say to ourselves and others and what impact does it have on people?
The first thing is that it can have an absolutely devastating impact. I met with a lady in the weekend and I’ll share her story in a second, and it was amazing that the story has lasted for so long.
01:00 Example writer stopped working due to bad feedback
This particular one came up only a few days ago. It was mentioned in a resume writers group. This particular woman put this post up. And she said, I had (and it was talking about having bad reviews from clients or people asking for refunds). And she said, I had one last year abuse and harrass me so intensely, I stopped taking new business for over six months. It was that bad. I’m now only getting back on track and stepping back into my writing. So she let one person’s negativity, one person who had a bad experience.
01:34 Don’t ignore the red flags
And when she’s giving me a further explanation, it was one of those customers which should have been a red flag from the start. She should have rejected them from the start, but she didn’t. And yeah, some horrific story around it. But basically, this person was so evil to her, so nasty to her that she stopped doing that business for six months, because she had massive imposter syndrome. Massive, you know, can I do this? Am I right to do this? You know, what have I done wrong? And all these things keep coming up.
02:06 For six months she closed her business
And it had a devastating impact. You know, six months she didn’t run her business. She literally shut down her Facebook page, closed everything down. For all intents and purposes shut up shop. And it was until someone, a friend of hers, kind of forced her back into it by saying, oh, please do this for me, help me get into a new career, that she jumped back into it and now, thankfully, she is back into it. So that’s awesome.
02:29 Could you say things differently?
So really stop and think. Could you say things differently? So when you’re talking to something, bear in mind that the impact you can have on them can be massive. And just because you are having a bad hair day, doesn’t mean that they need to have a bad hair day, too. So just something to think about.
02:46 One sentence remembered vividly 33 years later
And the reason I’m emphasising this point is because of this conversation I had in the weekend. So I was chatting to this lovely lady and she is in her 70s or 80s and back in 1988, so 33 years ago she was working as a typist. And she’d been working as a typist loyally in this firm for 17 years. And anyway, this conversation about this particular line in the conversation came about purely because I’d said to her, what did she’d done in her past? What did she done in the past? What had she done, done before obviously retiring. And she said, oh you know, I’d worked in admin roles and being a typist in the typist pool and things, blah, blah.
And she raised this without me you know questioning it, without me saying, you know, what was a bad experience or good experience or whatever. She raised this. So this is how much it stuck with her. That in her psyche 33 years on, just having a casual conversation. She told me this and she said, that her boss dumped a computer on her desk in 1988, she remembers the date well. Dumped on her desk and said, right from Monday you’re going to be using a computer instead of a typewriter.
You think about that when you first get a new computer. You’ve got to fluff around learning a new operating system. And when they update windows, you’ve got to change everything. And it’s a pain, right? So it’s frustrating. And you get stuck along the way. So think about it, you’re brand new to a computer, you’ve never used it before, never used an operating system, never used the software, never used any of it. And she had no training.
04:28 One negative comment added to a lifetime without praise
They were going to give her two hours, two days a week training to use the computer. But she was told to use it on Monday. So she kind of went shocked face when they said that to her. And her manager said to her, “if you can’t make the change, then I’ll find someone who can”. And that has stuck with her for all that time. Now, when you add that to the fact that she had also had a childhood where she lacked praise from her father. She says she can remember a handful of times when her father praised her, because he would add a little ‘ie’ to her name. She knew when she’d done something good, but he didn’t praise her.
So when you add a lifetime of childhood not being praised and you add this negative comment, it stays with you for life. Well it can stay with you for life and in her case it can. And what that does, like this other lady, it has flow-on effects. You start having imposter syndrome. You start thinking, I’m not good enough. And the problem is, if you don’t think you’re good enough, and you don’t believe in yourself, no one else is going to believe in you either.
05:32 Could I still get the message I want to get out, but not do it in such a harmful way?
So it has a massive flow-on effect for your life. Really think about what you’re saying to people. Thinking about when you word something. When you word an email or you word a comment, particularly on the socials where it can get easily misconstrued. Think about how can I change this, how can I reword it? So maybe write the post and pause then and then go back to it and go, is this actually conveying the message I want to convey and then put it across. Or thinking, could I soften this a bit, still get the message I want to get out, but not do it in such a harmful way?
06:07 Vision Walk to address leadership issues
So these are a couple of examples of the lifelong impact these type of things can have on somebody. You know, another client of mine. We did, a thing, called a Vision Walk, which is a coaching tool. And she came to me saying, I have issues with leadership. I don’t feel I can lead people. I just it’s been an issue for me and I’m not sure why. So anyway, we did this vision walk exercise and in this exercise you go back to being a child, and you basically look at when you lead something as a child. [To find out more about the vision walk please watch the video or read the blog on pattern interrupts.]
06:40 Nothing was good enough sticks
And when she was looking back into her childhood, she realised she was getting a lot of feelings of repeatedly being told by her father again, a different father situation that she was not good enough. She was never good enough. Nothing was ever good enough. Everything had to be improved, fixed, changed. Nothing was good enough. Then also in her childhood, when she was about 11 or so, she was told by a teacher, “shut up, we don’t want to hear what you have to say”.
07:08 Feel in your throat if you’re afraid to speak
And that one line, again, combined with what was going on at home, really stuck with her, and that has actually been the catalyst of why she has not been able to lead. She actually was afraid to speak up and we were doing this exercise, one of the things you do is you actually ask them where they’re feeling it. And she was feeling it in her throat, because obviously she was afraid to speak.
07:32 It’s not about blaming other people
So the thing is, with this stuff, it’s not blaming other people. It’s not about blame. It’s not a blame game, but it’s identifying where things have come from, where these patterns have come from, so that we can identify them and identify that back then, after that point, she shut up. She didn’t say anything anymore because she didn’t want to have to be called out in front of a class and told to shut up. This is what she did. She protected herself by being quiet. So this is what you’ve got to remember. You’re protecting yourself.
08:01 Protection no longer serves, so we can choose to change
And sometimes what happens is that why we protected itself is no longer the case, so we can choose to change. So what happens when we no longer hold that statement true. When it just doesn’t need to be there for us anymore? So when you’re told shut up you’ve got nothing to say, but you’re going actually I do have something to say. So think about what happens when we change that. We no longer hold that statement true. We just relegate that statement as something that we’ve learnt or something from our past. Something from our past, something that we acknowledge was someone’s opinion.
08:38 We’re not going to please everyone all the time
In the case of the resume writer, you know, he might have been perfectly, you know, disgruntled. He may have not been happy with the experience he got. And that’s fine. We’re not going to please everyone all the time. But, you know, take on board what you need to take on board. And she’s learnt some things out of it, about how to contract with people, what things to accept and what not to accept, when to look at the red flags all that sort of stuff.
09:03 Recognising the pattern is there and it no longer serves you
The other one is to understand that in the past, these things protected us, but they may no longer serve us. So if shutting up no longer serves us, then we don’t need to shut up anymore. We can speak. We can open ourselves up. One of the things we need to do was when we recognise these patterns, because I said this is not a blame game, but it’s about recognising that this pattern is there and recognising it no longer serves you.
09:28 Need to change the pattern – pattern interrupt
So when it no longer serves you, you need to change the pattern. I have a blog or video on my website which came out of a Facebook group, so it’s not the best quality, but worth having a look at anyway, because it talks about this issue. It talks about if you grow up feeling that you were poor, even when you know you’re not poor as an adult, it will still sit there. It will still cause you to do certain actions that are not in your best interest. So something to look at and that can help you move forward.
09:59 Framing something I don’t want or I don’t have
Things like this, when we’re framing something I don’t want or I don’t have, I don’t have enough money. I don’t want to be unhappy. I should or I must. So when we say I should or I must, who’s should or must are these? I should be more active on LinkedIn. Who’s saying you should be more active, you, or ‘the people’, you know who is saying this?
10:27 If it’s somebody else’s thing, then maybe it’s someone else’s agenda
If it’s somebody else’s thing, then maybe it’s someone else’s agenda. We don’t actually need to follow it. So think about ways that we can change this language. Instead of saying what you don’t want to have, talk about what you want to have. Instead of talking more about what you don’t want to have, talk about what you want to have. I don’t want to be unhappy. Rephrase that. I want to be happy. I don’t have enough money. I have enough money to survive today. Whatever. Rephrase things.
10:58 Change the I should or I must negative language
Change the I should or I must, which it sounds like it’s an obligation on you from someone else to I want, or if you don’t want it, get rid of it, ditch it. It becomes something for somebody else.
11:11 Negative language like I can’t
These are other negative words that we say to ourselves. Now the word I can’t. How many times do you say, I can’t do that. I failed. I never succeed. I always stuff up. I’m hopeless.
11:28 That person made me mad
That person made me mad. No person can make you mad. The way that you react to them is making you mad. Two people can respond to a situation in a completely different way. So when you have the words I can’t replace it with the words I won’t and see how you feel when you make that change.
11:50 Change I can’t to I won’t
So if you can say I can’t run a marathon and you change it to I won’t run a marathon. And if you say I won’t run a marathon and it suddenly makes you feel uncomfortable? Do you know why? It’s because it wasn’t a can’t thing. You could do it. You’re choosing not to do it for other reasons, by rephrasing it as I won’t. Then it’s a will thing. You’re saying I’m not doing it. Now in my case I’m going I won’t run a marathon and I’m happy with that because I can’t run a marathon. I won’t run a marathon because I have dodgy knees and stuff like that. That’s fine. So doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable.
12:23 Won’t may make you feel really uncomfortable
But if it was something where I say I can’t get my online school up and running, and I rephrase it to I won’t get my online school up and running, that’s going to make me feel really uncomfortable. Because it’s something I really want to do, but I’m just not getting it done. So that’s going to, then that causes you to rethink things.
12:39 I failed doesn’t need to be considered negative language
I failed. I failed is the first attempt in learning. Think of it like that and suddenly it becomes a completely different thing. You think about Edison and that. Did they just do their inventions on day one? Of course not. Absolutely no way.
12:53 I never and I always – generalising and distorting
I never is generalising. I always is generalising. I’m hopeless is generalising and distorting. And that person made me mad. Is putting our, the way that we’re behaving and feeling from someone else and we can’t do that, we are controlling our emotions.
Tea time, need my tea. So if you’re saying something like, I never succeed, think about a time that you did. Think about a time when you did succeed, and then you’ll realise using the word never as an absolute term, is a load of rubbish. Don’t do it.
13:28 Small sample size leads to negative language
The other time that you might use never’s is in a situation where you’ve only done something a couple of times, and your sample size is just too small. Like Facebook ads never worked for me. Well, if you’ve run two Facebook ads, it’s not really a big enough sample size. And it’s probably more about your execution than running Facebook ads.
13:46 Words that we are putting into our heads
I always fail. Has there been a time when you didn’t? Of course, there has been. So again, ditch I never and I’ve always. They are words that we are putting into our heads that’s making it seem that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to never succeed. It’s not true.
14:06 What you do is not who you are
What you do is not who you are, and this is really important to understand. I had people telling me at a particular event that they were disorganised. And, for instance, one lady I’d been to her house, and her house it was immaculately clean.
14:20 General statements which are negative language
And I’m like, okay I’ve been to your house. Your house is not disorganised. Oh, no, that’s not what I mean. I’m disorganised in this situation. I’m disorganised when I’m doing my admin work. Well, that’s the thing that you were doing. It is not saying I’m disorganised. Okay. So make sure that you’re not changing something that you do, into who you are. Another lady said she was disorganised, because she was a bit slack on meeting deadlines or something or turning up in meetings, whatever.
And then I said is there somewhere in your life where you’re really organised. You said oh yeah my fabrics they’re all really colour coded and organised and ra ra ra. Therefore, you’re not disorganised. As a being, you’re not disorganised. Your admin work is disorganised, not you as a being. So be careful of turning things that you do into who you are. Because it’s not.
15:13 Try is a word that you need to get out of your vocab
The word try is a word that you need to get out of your vocab. And I love this line from a movie “Trying is having the intention to fail. You gotta scrap that word from your vocab. Say you’re going to do it and you will.”
Now, there’s two things with us. We say the word try. I’m going to try and get my tax done this weekend. And you know, we honestly kind of are talking about it. But by saying I’ll try to get it done, is giving me an automatic out. So we don’t want to use the word try when we’re talking about things that we’re setting for ourselves. So I will get the tax done this weekend. Commit to it. Actually make it a positive.
15:52 Saying try when we mean no
The other one is, is when someone else asks us to do something, and even if it’s something good. But we go, you know they’ve asked us to do something on Saturday night. We don’t really want to go. So we say, I’ll try to get there, when you know full well you’re not going to get there. So just be upfront and honest and don’t use it as a cop-out.
16:09 Learn to say no politely. No is not always negative!
If you don’t want to do it. If you don’t want to try, say no. Learn to say no politely. It’s a good skill to have. These are just some other examples of negative language that you need to get rid of in your writing that you do. So things like the word contract has a bit of a negative connotation, whereas an agreement sounds like we’re coming to some agreement together. A contract sounds very legal.
I’d like the opportunity to work with you. I’d love the opportunity to work for you. So much more powerful, so much more behind it.
16:43 People buy on emotion, they validate with logic
What do you think about that versus, how does that work for you? How does that feel for you? You know, try to dig into the feelings side. People buy on emotion, they validate with logic. Try tapping into that emotional side. Saying something like, suppose we could do that, suppose we could fit that in. We’re keen to accommodate. Very different. You know, again, accommodate showing that we know we’re kind of fitting it in. But it sounds much more positive and proactive than suppose we could.
17:13 Blah words, they just don’t have oomph
Good. Sure. All right. Very blah words, they just don’t have oomph. Fabulous, awesome, wonderful. But don’t over use them. There was a guy one time who sent an email with the word awesome in it 20 times. It literally drove me insane.
And the other thing is just words like lockdown. Such a negative word, whereas staycation sounds so much more positive.
17:35 Suggestions for your choose to do list
A little to do list of suggestions out of today. And as I said, if you’ve got any questions. If you are on live, feel free to chuck them in. If you are watching it on the replay, just hashtag replay so that I know that to remember to check them. Put your question and I’ll come back and answer it. But I always suggested to do list after doing any form of training. And so what I suggest is consider what you say and write. Okay. So really think about things that you’re putting out there.
17:59 Are you saying negative things to yourself?
Are you saying negative things to yourself? Or are you saying negative things to somebody that could stick with them for the rest of their life? Do you really want to be shaping someone’s life negatively forever? No. So think about changing that. Review your emails and your comments on Socials, because often that’s where we go awry.
18:18 Consciously reword your language
Consciously reword your language. So make some of those changes. Take out the word contract and replace it with an agreement. So much friendlier, so much nicer.
18:26 Reflect. Is this making me feel different, by making these changes?
Reflect. Is this is making me feel different, by making these changes? Are people around me responding better if I make some of these changes? And, if you need help with this topic, look into coaching. The reason I talked about this topic today, was because it is International Coaching Week, and the language that we use and the way that we talk is a really key part of the coaching conversation. So if you do need help, I am a Professional Certified Coach. A PCC with the ICF, the International Coaching Federation.
So do feel free to reach out to me and I can offer some assistance to you. And if you’re in New South Wales, you may be at a take advantage of the New South Wales government funded Business Connect programme. So that was my tea time tip. The first one. I hope you got something useful out of it.
19:18 Future tea time tip ideas
Thank you for those of you that did pop by today. And as I said, if you’re watching the replay, do feel free to ask a question, make a comment. Let me know how you’ve been impacted by any of these issues. I would love to know. So thank you guys for checking in. And we look forward to seeing you again. If you’ve got any topics you’d like us to cover in tea time tips, let us know. Basically, these are meant to be mini lunch and learns that you can just watch on your tea break. Okay, thanks guys, and catch you again soon. Bye.
If you’d like to know more about patterns and how they may be causing you to operate on autopilot in a way which no longer serves you, please check out this blog.