Spotlight

Eliminate Bad News by Eradicating Negative Language

The Bad News Eradicator is a little exercise I do with clients in which I present a list of common negative phrases and then ask my clients to turn them into positives. Below I’ve taken a series of negative phrases and spun them into positive ones.

Negative: “I don’t know.”
Positive: “My knowledge is limited, but I know a couple of things about that. Let me tell you what they are. If you need more information, I can get it for you.”

Negative: “We can’t release the information.”
Positive: “That information is confidential and must remain private.”

Negative: “We don’t do it that way.”
Positive: “Here’s the way we do it ... ”

Negative: “That’s not our style.”
Positive: “Here are important elements of our style … ”

Negative: “The boss won’t buy it.”
Positive: “Here’s what the boss has bought in the past; here’s what she may buy in the future … ”

Negative: “That’s a lie.”
Positive: “If you check your facts and assumptions you may come to a different conclusion.” Or “Using the same analysis we came up with a different result.”

Create a Bad News Eradicator for yourself. On the left side of a sheet of paper, begin to track the negative phrases you use or that you hear others use or that are used on you. On the right side, write out the positive equivalents.

Being the leader of an organization gives you the opportunity to confuse more people more quickly than other positions in the organization. This confusion is caused by negative language. Gently correct those who use negatives by suggesting positive equivalents.

— James Lukaszewski