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After first acknowledging Prince and Johnny Mercer for today’s title, I’d like to briefly look at using the positive tone when we’re speaking.
I’ve written tip sheets and taught lessons about it, but how to adopt this tone when I speak never really hit home until I had a child five years ago.
Before then, the only non-work time I was attentive to what came out of my mouth was in front of the very young or the very old – with the emphasis of course on omitting the classic swear words.
But with my own child, I found I was using the imperative or ‘command’ voice more often than ever before – and mostly it was to get her not to do something. With parenting books stressing that staying positive helps increase the child’s self-worth, I started to focus more on my language.
Here are some examples of the kinds of changes I made:
From: Don’t go on the road To: Stay away from the road OR Stay in the driveway
From: I don’t want you watching too much TV today. To: I’d prefer we went outside or read a book today.
From: We know you won’t make this mistake again. To: We are confident you will do better next time you try.
From: Never eat the mushrooms from the ground. To: Only eat the mushrooms from the fridge.
From: Can you please stop screaming! To: Can you please lower your voice?
Now that I’m more practiced at using a positive verbal tone, I actually feel better during conversations with people about potentially inflammatory things – including the need to avoid those poison mushrooms. And, I’ve gotten even better than before at keeping things positive in the tone of my writing.
Want to accentuate the positive?
Test yourself! Try this resource from University of Tennessee professor and Technical Writing Dept director Dr. Russel Hirst. It covers the subject of tone quite nicely – including how to make it positive – and offers an easy-to-follow online worksheet that provides the answers at the end.
Get another perspective and more examples. This paper posted on a UK social justice site is written through their lens, but gives excellent analysis of negative word choice’s effects on other areas of our lives. It also gives useful tips on how to include more plus signs in your writing.
If you need training on how to improve the tone of your speaking or writing , contact me or SimplyRead directly.