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HR Communication Tip: Say What You Want… Not What You Don’t Want.

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, June 22, 2016

By Paul Endresscoach, speaker, and founder of Maximum Advantage International. 

Endress will present Adapting Your Communication Style to Get Results at HR West Seattle on July 15, 2015. Go to www.hrwest.org/seattle for more information and to register for the conference.

This article was recently published on: www.paulendress.com

The Mind Can’t Directly Process A Negative
So Say What You Want… Not What You Don’t Want

In this post, I’m going to give you a tip that you can use to instantly improve your communication, and it comes from something that happened to me recently.  So here’s what happened.

My wife and I went out to dinner at the Harvest Café.  It’s a great place we love to go there.  Sometimes it’s a little slow for us because I’m usually in a hurry, but we went there and then we just were sitting down to enjoy it.  Then I saw this sign that they had up in there and (upon reading it) I thought, what better way is there to do this? Because it’s going to reveal a good communication truth that you can put to use right away.  The sign said, “Don’t forget to vote for 2016 Simply the Best.”

This local magazine, here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has a contest where people submit votes for the best restaurant and then once a year they publish a special issue, then the restaurant can use that in their advertising. -- i.e. “Yes, we are the best restaurant in Harrisburg.” So they’re putting up a sign that says, “Don’t forget to vote.”

This is a great example of the effective communication principle that says: the mind cannot directly process a negative.The Mind Cant Processs A Negative - Small

There’s a famous story about Fran Tarkenton, who was a quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. They’re in the championship game with two minutes left, and he goes to the sidelines. The game is within reach. They’re six points back, they’ve got to score a touchdown — two minutes.  Which if you don’t know football, that’s plenty of time to score the touchdown if you’re playing well!

Fran says to the coach, “What should I do?”  And the coach says, “Fran, no matter what you do don’t throw an interception.”  An interception is where he accidentally throws it to the other team and that’s exactly what happened when he went back on the field because what had the coach put in his mind?  “Don’t throw an interception.”

The interception might have happened for other reasons, but one of them is that the mind can’t directly process a negative word like “don’t.”  So when something says, “Don’t forget to vote,” the words that we really get are: “Forget to vote.”

“Don’t throw an interception” becomes “throw an interception.”

What could they have done differently? Change it to say, “Remember to vote.”  Which is the positive version of what they want you to do instead of the negative version!

Changing the wording from a negative to a positive greatly increases the chances that people are going to remember to vote for them instead of forget to vote for them.

Putting It To Use

The next time you need to get somebody to do something, and you need to give an instruction, give it instruction in a positive way.  Tell them what you do want... not what you don’t want.

Ask yourself this question: In what situation do you express yourself in terms of what you don’t want --- how can you flip that around and turn it into a positive so you say what you do want instead of what you don’t want?

Just flip it around, express it as a positive.

And whenever you think about this, just think about:  “Remember to vote” versus “Don’t forget to vote.” 

Small change, big difference, great results.

You can also listen to/"watch" Paul discuss his communication style tip on YouTube.*

About the Author

Paul Endress is an in-demand coach, speaker, and founder of Maximum Advantage International, a company that gives organizations and individuals the skills necessary to communicate effectively in an increasingly difficult business environment.

An inspiring speaker, Endress is the author of Dealing With Difficult People and has helped thousands of individuals and business executives from companies such as Shell and Mitusbushi through his seminars, speeches, and products.

His latest project is the Communication Styles 2.0 model and software, which is based upon eight years of research and solves communication problems by creating visual models of interactions between group members.

*Adapting Your Communication Style to Get Results 
HR West Seattle - July 15 • 03:05 PM - 04:05 PM

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Tags:  business communication skills  effective communication skills  Executive Coaching  HR  HR coaching  HR Management Skills  HR West 2016  HR West Seattle  Paul Endress 

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