Lose the Absolutes

Lose the Absolutes

“Language is power, in ways more literal than most people think. When we speak, we exercise the power of language to transform reality.” ~Julia Penelope

Absolutes don’t work in communication. They hamper collaborative efforts.

“You always…”

“He never…”

Whether speaking to someone else or simply thinking to yourself, words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ are like pouring gasoline on a fire.

Besides, absolutes are usually inaccurate and rarely effective if what you really want is to spur change in the other person, because the person you’re talking to will find the one example that negates what you’re saying.

Substitute words words like ‘rarely’ or ‘generally’ instead.

“It’ll never change…” Well, thinking or saying so out loud sure won’t help it to, now will it?

Try instead: “In the past it’s been this way; I continue to believe it can change.”

Now, you’re sending a proactive message.

This is the ‘drip-drip-drip’ approach to long term change.

And your language is a place to start.

1% changes add up over time

When you use the word ‘never’, for example, when referring to yourself or someone else, or even the world at large, you are reducing your brain’s ability to help the situation or the person to change.

Your unconscious—the ‘mother board’ of your powerful operating system—goes to work to prevent the change you say you actually want consciously.

This is because the unconscious registers absolutes in language as a ‘threat’ and so it activates the internal fight or flight response.

Adrenaline starts pumping, and the listener is now on the defensive, ready to run away or attack.

The good news is, the opposite is also true: rephrasing your complaints by removing absolutes from your communication reinforces the change you do want, and leaves adrenaline out of it.

If as the speaker what you want is an agreement or a suggested change—either with yourself or someone else—using “always” and “never” will not assist you to get it.

For better, quicker, more powerful results, lose absolute words from your daily lexicon.

Besides, they’re never true and I’m always right.

Stay connected with our Monday Morning Message

Cynthia Barlow

Founder Cynthia Barlow

Facilitator, Author, Coach

Helping businesses build their people

When your people have the skills to communicate more effectively, they can connect more easily and collaborate more productively. Not only on the job, but also in life.

Communication, Connection, and Collaboration—the three “C’s”—are the cornerstones of all successful businesses. They are the result of Emotional Intelligence in action.

More details can be found in my recent best seller with co-author Jennifer Eggers:
Resilience: It’s Not About Bouncing Back

The power of resilience within organizations and can transform an average company into a powerhouse. Yet, even in times of rapid disruptive change, there is no manual for building resilient organizations. This book is that manual.

“If you  want to build more resilience intentionally—personally and professionally—read this book.”
Fran Karamousis, Chief  of Research, Gartner


Want To Talk?
cynthia@c3conversations.com 1 (647) 544 - 1567
Thanks! We'll be contacting you soon.