“Language is power. When we speak, we exercise the power of language to transform reality.” — Julia Penelope

What we say and how we say it impacts our own experience and the experience we have of other people in our life. Our communication has an impact not only on a cognizant, mental level, but also at many subtle levels. Words convey underlying messages to our subconscious mind, evoking physical, emotional, mental and spiritual meaning for others and for us.

Some words and phrases are less empowering, or effective than others. For example, say the following phrase: I have to stop at the bank on my way home. Pay particular attention to the phrase ‘have to’, which is a way of saying that we have no choice. Now, try saying this instead: It’s important for me to stop at the bank on my way home. Notice that changing ‘have to’ to It’s important for me to” feels more powerful and more inviting for us.

Any word or phrase that implies lack of freedom or choice tends to feel disempowering or ineffective. That perspective invites a feeling of victimization, which is then reinforced by a cycle of more disempowering or ineffective language.

I’ve coached and mentored hundreds of people and over the last few years and have earned somewhat of a reputation for being a “SME” (Subject Matter Expert) within the Business Support Profession. One of the words which I continually hear in this profession is ‘just”. “I’m just an admin” and my blood boils each time I hear it. The word “just” is one of the most negative words and creates both a physical and emotional response. It is heard and felt as condescending, creates a feeling of being less than and diminishes what is following it. It is a negatively used word. Think about it… I’m just an admin. I’m just a student. I’m just a janitor. I’m just a cook. I’m just a teacher. I’m just a …. (fill in the blank). How much more empowering is it to eliminate this one word? I’m an admin. I’m a student. I’m a janitor. I’m a cook. I’m a teacher. Be Proud – What a difference one small word can make!

So how often do you use negative self-talk? Below you’ll find some examples of language that is much more empowering and effective.

Instead of saying this…

  • I should…
  • I need to, I must, or I have to…
  • I can’t…
  • Absolutes like always, everybody, and never
  • But (I see what you mean, but I don’t agree.)
  • I’ll try…
  • Yeah, uh-huh, or nah, nope, unh-unh

Empower yourself and others by saying…

  • I choose, desire, want… 
  • It is important for me to… 
  • I choose not to, I’m unwilling to, what works for me is to… 
  • Sometimes, often, seldom, some people, in the past 
  • And (I see what you mean, AND I don’t agree.) 
  • I will, I intend, I’m aiming for… 
  • Yes or no (be direct)

Leave out the following Words or Phrases 

  • Just (I’m just a student) The word “just’ diminishes whatever follows it.
  • Maybe, I think, Kind of, Sort of, (I think I’ve kind of decided not to go with you.) These words reflect uncertainty and a lack of commitment and power.
  • I’d like to…I want to… For example, instead of saying, I would like to acknowledge your courage, simply say I acknowledge your courage.
  • Like (I was, like, amazed a how hard it was to stay on the surfboard). Do not use unless it is within a metaphor or expressing a feeling of caring for someone.
  • You know (You know, I can really relate to what you’re going through. Or He’s really good at his job, you know?) It implies assumption that the other person agrees rather than taking ownership of your own point of view.
  • I think (statement) Make a clear statement of belief or fact. Prefacing it with ‘think’ makes this statement an inappropriate ‘why’ statement, calling your knowledge into doubt when there is no doubt about the belief or fact you intend to communicate.

Source: InviteCHANGE 2016

Finally, none of us would like to admit to being average. Average is dull, ordinary and unremarkable. If you want to be less average, here is a simple tip: stop using the word “OK”. It has become a toxic cop-out.

“How was the movie?” “OK.” “How did the job interview go?” “OK.”

We say OK when we can’t be bothered to give a descriptive, thoughtful reply. It leaves our conversation and ourselves colorless.

Have an opinion about life, the cut of a dress, or a dining experience. Show your passion, your point of view and your individuality.

Give yourself permission to be more than OK and exercise the power of language to transform your reality!