Language: What message are you sending?

I’m always fascinated by language and the often unintentional, subliminal message it sends.

Recently I made a prediction about a business owner’s behavior. This occurred in February 2020. The owner stated emphatically that there were certain duties he would never relinquish. I predicted that by December 2020, he would have delegated these duties.

The owner made a note of my prediction, adding “I don’t think this will happen.” I laughed. He asked “Why are laughing?” I responded “Look at your language. You didn’t say that it won’t happen, you said you don’t think it will happen. Your language indicates that you’re already considering the possibility that it might happen, which increases the likelihood my prediction will come true.”

My point

This isn’t about whether or not my prediction will be right; I’ve been wrong many times before. My point is that language is a powerful indicator of where a person is in their thought process.

The owner’s initial statement was that he would never relinquish his duties; his subsequent statement said he didn’t think he’d delegate these duties. It’s subtle, but a definite shift in thinking.

Why is this important? Because paying attention to language is essential to helping others.

I’ve worked with this owner for a number of years. I’ve seen previous statements of the never nature fall by the wayside as the owner’s confidence grew. That was the foundation on which I built my prediction. But I didn’t make the prediction frivolously, it was designed to plant a seed to accelerate the change I believed to be inevitable. This owner, his employees and customers will all benefit when he relinquishes control over these duties.

He will have more time to pursue his passion. His employees will have the opportunity to learn and grow personally and professionally. These employees will share the joy they experience in their work environment by creating more enjoyable experiences for customers. Everyone wins!

Another example is a person who regularly uses the words try and hope. Both words imply doubt consequently any progress that is made is glacially slow, laborious and energy depleting. Language shapes our mindset and, consequently, our future.

For you

If you are:

  • Struggling.
  • Overwhelmed.
  • Anxious.
  • Fearful.
  • Frustrated.
  • Disappointed.
  • Exhausted.
  • Adamant.

Take a look at the language you’re using. If that language implies doubt or that you’re not open to new ideas and approaches, then change your language. The subtle shift the business owner made is all that it takes to begin an exploration of the benefits of change which then leads to a path for change that is not only comfortable, but enjoyable.

For our kids

When your kids use language that implies doubt or a closed mind, ask them questions like:

  • When you say ‘try or hope,’ do you believe that you’re incapable of achieving what you want?
  • If you insist that something isn’t possible, have you tried the alternatives to make sure they won’t work?

Help them understand that the language they use influences how they think and, consequently, what result they get. I’m going to paraphrase an old adage. Whether you say you can or you say you can’t, you’re right. Language is a powerful influencer in our lives, let’s teach our kids to use it well.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, share your thoughts in a comment below.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs.

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, Much wisdom in this article about our self fulfilling prophecy!

    Appreciate the reminder.

    Bill Prenatt

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