Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Power of Positive Speech

Some friends of mine have just returned from a magnificent round-the-world trip and spent some time regaling me with their holiday stories.

They finished the conversation with this classic: “It was one of those holidays when everything that could go right did go right.”

Hang on – did I hear that correctly? Everything that could go RIGHT?

In PR, we’re always telling our clients how important it is to develop messages that are positive, not negative. “Keep the focus on you,” we tell them.

This story illustrates that point very clearly. Imagine if the story my friends told me was about everything that went WRONG? What would it leave me feeling at the end?

“Typical airlines … I’ve had just that experience with them before … can’t be trusted … who’d go to that country anyway … for the amount you pay you’d think the hotel could at least be clean …. “. And so on, and so on. My focus would be on all the companies and people who had made this holiday a bad one.

Negative messages can divert our attention from the main game. Instead of focusing on the key points I am trying to get across, by being negative I risk leading my audience down another path.

So what happened when my friends told me everything that went RIGHT? What did I feel?

“Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving couple …. good on them …. what a great holiday …” And so on.

Whether you are talking up a product or fending off a developing issue, positive language can be very positive in getting people on side. It builds confidence with the listener and keeps them focused on you and your message.

Think about this scenario: You are the chairman of a company that has had a food product tampered with. You’re facing a media conference. Which of the following messages is going to do the most good for both you and your customers:

a. We can’t believe anyone would do such a terrible thing.
b. We’re going to find this criminal and make him pay.
c. We will stop at nothing to make our food safe for customers.

Think positive, talk positive. It’s the key to clear communication.

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