Positive language for positive outcomes

Article by Belinda Fuller

Positive language for positive outcomes

The language you use in any situation is so important in effectively conveying your message. Often employers look beyond a candidate’s skills, experience and qualifications to seek out positivity. This is particularly so in competitive markets where experience might be equal with many candidates who could ‘do the job’. In this case – the enthusiasm with which you tackle things provides a key advantage.

If you think about your day-to-day interactions with people and how they make you feel, positive language can have a huge impact, and will usually create a far better impression than negative or even neutral language. How often does someone say “not too bad” when you ask how they are? The other day at the grocery store, I asked a young man how he was and he said “I’m fantastic! In fact, I’m always fantastic!” That left a great impression on me and provided me with an immediate insight into his mood and outlook on life. The difference between “not too bad” and “fantastic” is stark and can make a huge difference to the questioner’s impression of the person. Regardless of the situation, people feel automatically lifted when positive language is used over negative language.

When employers are evaluating prospective candidates – beyond skills, experience, and qualifications, they seek out positive people. If all other aspects are equal, a candidate who demonstrates positivity and enthusiasm will usually have an advantage over one who is negative or disinterested. It demonstrates that the candidate would probably complete the job in an upbeat and cooperative manner. Many employers would prefer to provide some on-the-job training to an enthusiastic but less experienced worker than hire someone with the perfect background but a less than positive attitude.

By using positive language and ensuring an upbeat attitude in interviews, with your colleagues, and your clients, you will set yourself up for success. In fact, it’s a critical factor in determining workplace success. Employers promote employees who not only produce results, but also motivate others in the workplace, and a positive approach can help with this.

There are many ways to use positive language and demonstrate enthusiasm in the workplace. For example, in a job interview – discuss previous experiences and training in an upbeat manner, smile, sit up straight, and make eye contact. Once in the workplace – listen, learn, and try new things. Be proactive and offer to help others, or seek out new tasks or projects in your down time. In addition to using positive words in your everyday language, it’s worth being mindful of how you phrase things too.

Positive language:

  • tells the recipient what can be done
  • suggests alternatives and choices
  • is helpful and encouraging.

Negative language:

  • tells the recipient what can’t be done
  • has a subtle or obvious tone of blame
  • emphasises negative actions or consequences.

Try to use positive rather than negative language and stop yourself if negativity starts to creep in. Here’s some examples of how you can replace a negative phrase with a more positive one:

This phrase Could be replaced with
I can’t Let me look into that for you
No problem Definitely or Certainly
Not too bad Great
Can’t complain Everything is going well thanks
I’ll try I will
I forgot I’ll set a reminder for next time
Never give up Keep up the good work
I am stress free I am calm and relaxed
Constructive criticism Feedback

Language is a powerful tool. Whether you communicate verbally, or in written form, the language you use affects how the message is perceived. Using positive language can help to reduce conflict, improve communication, increase optimism in others and can portray the speaker/writer as credible and respectable. Even unpleasant news can be softened by the use of positive language.

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