By Dr. Susanne Gaddis
You’ve been invited to participate in a communication activity called “Weigh Your Words.” The rules are simple: First, imagine that you were secretly followed by someone who recorded your every word for the past week—at home, work, everywhere.
For your convenience and to creatively educate you on the power of your words, this person has made a transcript of everything that you’ve said, and has now given it to you as a gift.
While looking at it, you notice the transcript has been divided into two distinct sections. First, there is the “Positive” column. This includes all of the helpful, encouraging, and affirming words you spoke. Next, there is the “Negative” column that includes all of the words you spoke that were harmful, disconfirming and discouraging.
Now imagine that an old-fashioned weight scale is right in front of you. Taking both parts of your transcript, you place the positive portion on one side and the negative portion on the other. Now step back and see what your scale looks like.
Is your scale tipped toward the negative? The positive? Or are you striking a balance?
Let’s work toward making it positive. It’s important. We now know that there are magic numbers when it comes to communication both in the workplace and at home. To be effective at work, it’s optimal to have a 3-to-1 positive to negative ratio. You need to work even harder at home where a 5-to-1 balance is best.
Today, in your interactions with others, make the choice to share more positive, helpful and affirming words. Consider ways that you can communicate to lighten the negative and add more positive “weight” to your word balance.
Your Prescription: Note how often you make positive and negative remarks during the course of your day. Add them up at day’s end. Aim for a 3-to-1 positive to negative ratio at work and a 5-to-1 ratio at home. Tip the scales in your favor.