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The Importance of Powerful Positive Phrasing


There are many different things which can get in the way of employees acting on a message.

And if you’re struggling with trying to get your employees to act on a message, you’ve reached the right place.

Today, I’ll be talking about the one, most important thing you should be doing to get your employees to do what you ask of them – the one thing that can really get them acting.

Can you guess what it is?


But not just regular phrasing – powerful, positive phrasing.

For communication to be effective, and for your desired action to occur, you have to put all your effort into your phrasing.

And you have to avoid negative phrasing at all costs.


Well, positive phrasing is much more compelling than negative phrasing. People are more likely to act, and do what you request, when you tell them what you want rather than what you don’t want.

So, instead of saying Don’t miss the deadline or we’ll hear from the corporate office, you could say:

Please have your report turned in by Friday so that we meet the corporate deadline.

This switch to positive phrasing makes a huge difference.

When you phrase something in a negative way, you are focusing on what you don’t want to happen, and the negative consequences if it does.

When you switch over to positive phrasing, the focus is on what you should do and the positive outcome.

A part of being a good leader is being able to understand how to speak to employees the right way and create an environment of trust that motivates and transforms employees. (I go into more of this on my blog post about Leadership Literacy).

By introducing positive phrasing into your workplace, you can achieve just that.

Why Positive Phrasing?

When I consult with professionals and business owners, they often mention that they struggle with engaging with their workforce or getting their employees to take direction easily.

I tell them that it may be the way they phrase their requests.

Think about it: we’re all human – we don’t like to hear what we can’t do, what we did wrong, or what we have to do.

Yet, ironically, without even realizing it, we provide instructions, directions, or enforce policies and procedures that do just that.

Positive phrasing is also easier to understand than negative phrasing. Positive phrasing allows you to be more assertive and straightforward. And when you’re straightforward about something, people are more receptive to it.

Here are some more examples:

  • I’m not available until March 1st vs.You can reach me again from March 1st onwards.
  • I don’t think this is a good alternative vs. I’m sure you can offer us an alternative option.
  • Let me explain that to you again vs. Could you please recap what we have covered so far?

Remember: in order for people to be receptive to what you are saying, and in order for your communication to be effective, you should always focus on powerful, positive phrasing as opposed to negative phrasing.

This can easily be accomplished by paying close attention to the words you choose.

If you do this, you are much more likely to gain cooperation from people, and are therefore much more likely to achieve the outcomes you desire.

What are some examples you have of positive phrasing? What situations have you been in which positive or negative phrasing has caused trouble or success? Let me know in the comments section below! And don’t forget to take a look at my Featured Products for everything you need to know about being a great leader, adapting to change, and more.

For more helpful tips like this, check out the blogs below:

Eight steps to finding a mentor
Employee growth and development occurs when we give our people the tools and resources they need
Identify Triggers and Keep Your Cool

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