The Importance of Using Positive Language

By Peggy Carlaw

Have you ever asked for assistance with something, only to hear that nothing could be done to help you?  How did that make you feel?  You probably felt frustrated; perhaps you asked yourself why you even communicated with this person in the first place. The truth is, we all love to hear positive things as opposed to negative things. This is why using positive language is so important.

Positive language is the art of using words and phrases to communicate a positive, supportive tone to your employees, customers, and anyone else you meet. Using positive language is important for building rapport with others. It makes a huge impact on the way you are perceived as a manager or coworker. Consider the following examples, and look for the difference that positive language makes:

Take 1: “I’m not able to process your request, Mr. Davis. You did not give me all of the information I needed.”

Take 2: “Mr. Davis, I’d be more than happy to process your request. I will just need to get a few more pieces of information from you.”

Positive language lets someone know what you can do instead of what you can’t do. It shows that you care. Positive language can be especially helpful if you have to deliver bad news or say no to someone. By incorporating the following guidelines into what you say and write, you will become successful at using positive language:

  • Highlight the positive
  • Show a willingness to help
  • Project a service-oriented attitude
  • Emphasize what you (or your company) can do
  • Avoid using statements that put people on the defensive
  • When you have to say no, explain the reason and, if appropriate, show empathy

Every day you have an opportunity to practice using positive language. Whether it’s with your employees, coworkers, parents, or friends, always be mindful of what you can do to ensure a positive communication. Another great thing about positive language is that it’s contagious. Once you practice using positive language, others will follow your example!

Peggy Carlaw is an author, customer service consultant, and principal with Impact Learning Systems (, a customer service training company. Peggy regularly blogs at the ILS customer service blog and actively supports socially responsible movements, including the World Harmony Run.

[From Connection Magazine October 2010]

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