Have you ever heard yourself saying?
“This situation (or person) is just impossible.”
“I’m a total failure at…” or “I’m hopeless at…”
“I’ll never be able to figure this out.”
“I’ll try, but…”
“It’s just such a nightmare.”
If you answered “yes” to any of these, then it’s likely you’ve unconsciously been sabotaging your success simply by how you speak. Psychological research has found that your subconscious interprets what it hears very literally. Your mind and body will follow the direction your words lead. So, if you want more influence, confidence, connection or opportunities to come your way, begin with what you’re projecting into the world each time you open your mouth.
The words you use hold immense power. Power to fuel your confidence and ambition and power to make you feel anxious and inadequate. Power to make a strong first impression and power to be quickly forgotten. Power to create opportunities and power to shut them down.
I’ve had people say to me, “I could never do you what you do as a leadership coach, business mentor and mastermind facilitator in Washington DC. The saying, “The words you speak become the house you live in,” holds great truth. The world mirrors yourself back to you. If you use positive language about yourself and your ability to meet challenges and achieve your goals, then that is what will show up for you externally. Likewise, if you continually make declarations about yourself or your circumstances that echo hopelessness, incite fear, nurture anxiety and breed pessimism, then those words will shape your reality, too. And not in good ways!
Your language also impacts how others perceive and relate to you. If you often feel overlooked or undervalued, consider how your speech patterns are contributing to how others engage with you. Using “out of power language”—like talking yourself down, making excuses or second-guessing your opinion before you’ve even shared it—can completely undermine your authority, presence and power. Listen to any successful person and you will notice they use language that is positive, precise, action-focused and continually puts deposits of trust into their relationships.
Turning negative speech habits into positive ones begins with transparency (since we often aren’t even aware of how we’re sabotaging our own success, it’s so habitual!). I recommend two things. First, begin by monitoring your language over the next 24 hours. Second, ask someone else to monitor you as well, as our habits are often invisible to us! Then make the decision to replace language that is qualifying, passive and imprecise with language that is positive, specific and declarative—the kind that puts you firmly in command, shifts your energy and, in doing so, makes you someone others want to listen to.
1. Hold yourself powerfully.
How you hold yourself physically—your posture, your facial expression, the space you take up—profoundly, yet subtly, shapes how you feel emotionally and how the words come out of your mouth. So first up, stand (or sit) tall, shoulders back, a light smile on your face and plenty of eye contact with people around you. That will amplify your presence, and it will ensure that the words you say come out in a way that will have optimal impact on who hears them.
2. Reframe forward.
Instead of expressing yourself in terms of what you cannot do, reframe your language in ways that express forward movement. In other words, instead of “I can’t, I don’t, I won’t, I want, I need,” say, “I can, I am, I will, I choose, I have, I love, I create, I enjoy.”
3. Avoid absolutes.
Instead of “They are complete idiots,” say, “They see things differently from me. I wonder what they see that I don’t.” Instead of “No one around here ever listens to a word I say,” try, “Some people don’t seem to listen to me. I wonder how I can speak in ways that make others want to pay more attention.”
4. Don’t apologize for your opinion.
Many people, particularly women, will preface their opinion with an apology or something else that minimizes the chances of ruffling feathers. If that’s you, stop. You don’t have to apologize for having an opinion. Just express it respectfully.
5. Express commitment. (Stop “trying”!)
Saying you’ll try to do something provides an excuse for not doing it. So, don’t try. Do. We live in language. Choose to speak in ways that bring out your best and make you feel more positive about your ability to do what inspires you and to change what doesn’t. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it is this that you are capable of far more than you think. Realizing just how capable you truly are begins the moment you decide to use words that embolden you.
ABOUT HELMUT SERVICES
Helmut Services is led by Helmut Herder, a professional leadership coach, business mentor and mastermind facilitator in Leesburg, VA. With over 30 years of corporate management experience, Helmut Herder consults with CEO’s, executives and business owners to help them achieve their goals and needs in life. A certified John Maxwell team member, Helmut Services offers proven methodologies and effective coaching techniques for business leaders throughout the U.S.