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Mind your language at work and achieve more

27th August 2019, 10:28 am

No, this isn’t a piece about swearing, cursing or bad language in the workplace. Well, actually it is a bit about bad language at work but maybe not the kind you’re thinking.

I recently read some research that said we have around 50,000 thoughts each day and that a whopping 70% are negative ones. That’s 35,000 pesky thoughts holding us back from achieving what we want to achieve.

Let’s say you lead or work in an organisation of 80 people. That’s 2.8 million negative thoughts being produced and circulating the workplace. Every. Single. Day. Now when you, your team and your business are working towards goals, that’s a lot of unhelpful thinking creating blocks and barriers to progress and results.

Even the most confident and positive amongst us can get caught up in unhelpful thinking patterns and disempowering language. What if this fails? This is never going to work. This is too hard. The problem with this is… We just don’t have the money, time, skills ….. And the list of negative, fear-based or judgemental self-talk continues.

How we talk to ourselves can have a big bearing on our resulting behaviour and actions. Much of what we feel, understand and accomplish happens as a result of our self-talk. If our inner dialogue is unhelpful, then so may be the way we respond, the action we take and the results we get.

Think about this in a business context. At some point, we all face high pressure situations, times of challenge and change. The conversations we have with ourselves, what we think and how we respond in these situations can determine the level of success we have.

In business, we spend a lot of time on business plans, marketing strategies, scenario planning, risk analysis and reporting on numbers. Yet not quite so much on the psychological aspects which when we master, can really make the difference to our results.

It’s well documented in the field of sports that athletes spend a lot of time and effort on the psychology of their performance. Yes, they analyse their competition, focus on their strategy, tactics and physical training. And they also invest in their mindset. High performing athletes use techniques such as visualisation and mental rehearsal. Crucially, they mind their language by having conversations with themselves that keep them focused on success, whilst staving off any negative thoughts of potential failure.

How many businesses do the same in preparation for achieving their ambitions? Imagine what could be achieved if we devoted more time and effort to priming our brains as well as our business plans.

So, what can you do to create a collectively focused and success-oriented organisational mindset and create better outcomes?

Here are three simple things you can do straight away.

  1. Make believe with your team.When you’re planning or communicating your next project or deliverable with your team, invest some time with them imagining and visualising the result. What does success look like? How does it feel? What are you saying to yourselves when you’ve achieved it? How do you benefit? And how will you celebrate when you’ve achieved it?


  1. Mind your language by asking yourself better questions.Negative thinking is often linked to fear. And it is fear that holds us back from achieving goals. One of the common ways we create fear (and therefore negative thoughts or outcomes) is by asking ourselves really bad questions. For instance, what if this project fails? can make us feel uninspired, dispirited and disempowered. Whereas, asking the better question what will happen when this project succeeds? helps to fuel the imagination and create the motivation to take positive action. Both questions are asking for information about success, but the second question activates positive motivation.


  1. Choose your words carefully.Your words matter. A lot. When confronted with a negative thought, or unhelpful inner self-talk, you can mind your language by choosing different and more helpful words. How? First notice and observe the negative thought or language. Then choose different words which help you to reframe and see things differently. For example


Instead of                    Try

The problem is              Here’s the challenge

Plan A didn’t work         Good job there are 25 more letters of the alphabet

This is too hard             This may take a bit more time and effort and can be done

We can’t do it                We can always learn so we’ll keep trying

By practising using more helpful words, you’ll naturally find over time, this will become your default way of thinking. As a result, you will develop a more success-oriented mindset.

If you’d like help to achieve better outcomes, more quickly with greater clarity and confidence, ask us about our coaching support


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