Watch Your Mouth: Part 2

Last week, we looked at how we phrase things affects the overall meaning. Actively choosing positive language improves one’s motivation and ability to process and manage stress. Positive messages can also improve overall mood. Being intentional in the things we say is key when communicating with others. As a leader, it’s crucial to communicate in a way that is both positive and clear. When you use language that is encouraging and constructive, your teams’ productivity and morale, as well as your own, improve.   

Below are some positive alternatives to negative phrases often used in the workplace:

“I want you to do this, but make sure you do it without causing a problem with that.”

Positive Alternative:

  • “I want you to do this because I trust in your knowledge/skill.”
  • “I’m giving you this task because your skills make you perfect for this job.”

“Go ahead and make that decision, but I don’t want the responsibility if things go wrong as a result.”

Positive Alternative:

  • “Go ahead and make that decision because I trust your judgement. Please let me know how I can support you.”
  • “I respect your opinions about this decision, but I am concerned about ____. How do you think we can address this concern?”  

“I want you to be successful, but I also want to make sure you don’t get into any trouble doing so.”

Positive Alternative:

  • “I want you to be successful and would be happy to share my insight/knowledge to support you.”
  • “Please let me know how I can be a resource for you to help you reach your goals.”

“Make sure that you keep everyone informed of what you are doing, but just don’t upset anyone.”

Positive Alternative:

  • “Everyone is excited to see the finished product. Please update us on its progress.”
  • “Please keep the team updated on this task and let us know if there’s anything we can contribute.”


One exercise that can be helpful in determining if you frequently use negative language patterns is to go through recent memos you’ve written. Read each memo word-for-word and look for words like “unfortunately”, ‘can’t’, ‘unable to’, ‘will not’, and ‘failed’. Determine what the overall focus of those memos are.

Are you focusing on negative consequences or the negative actions of others?

Now re-frame them with a focus on the positive actions of others, encouraging others by highlighting the positive outcomes of what you’re trying to achieve.

Practicing positive language patterns in writing makes positive language in our spoken interactions a habit. If you’d like to discuss more ways you can use positive language patterns, email me at I’d love to schedule a time for us to discuss how you can become a more positive and encouraging leader!

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