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Mind Your Language
By: Andrea Hensher, Principal, Words That Serve | Wednesday 15 March, 2017
An ancient proverb says: “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” The way you talk to yourself, about yourself, your business, your achievements and even your failures reveals the attitudes that influence the way you see yourself and your business. ANDREA HENSHER invites us to consider what our own words say about us.
It can be hard to hear your own narrative but it’s worth taking the time for. On average, we speak around 15,000 words per day. Alongside that is the constant internal commentary which switches on from the moment we wake to the moment our heads hit the pillow again at night.
How do we view the day when we wake up? Are we excited or anxious? How do we assess the day that’s just passed? Do we play up the negatives and downplay the positives? Tune into yourself for a week and carefully listen out for negative language. It may be eye-opening.
The worst of times can actually be the best of times. We all learn from our mistakes and often the biggest howlers can turn out to be the key turning points in our success. Think of ways to reframe that picture of business or personal adversity by actively drawing lessons from it. Learn to view it as a formative experience and change the words you use to describe it. Learning to fail well and come back from setbacks are important character builders. What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
Phrases to help you re-frame:
I have learned to…I now know… I have overcome...I recovered from...I defied expectation when I…When I see how far I’ve come…I’ve really improved…I understand much better now…
What doesn’t kill you also teaches you important life lessons that you can contribute. It’s a mark of confidence, not weakness, to be willing to share. In the right setting, it is a powerful demonstration of authenticity that builds trust. Difficult experiences that underpin or even revolutionise the way you interact with the world are part of what makes you unique. Who hasn’t been inspired by the stories of others who have overcome great challenges on their way to success? Let your story become an inspiration too.
Find something to delight in every day. Some days, it’s easier than others. Whether it’s executing a perfect reverse park, or landing a huge new client, make sure you take time to mentally give yourself a high five. Some days you will congratulate yourself on just having got through the day. Celebrate and enjoy every achievement. If you’re really stuck, find someone else to congratulate!
If this all seems too difficult, or you find it impossible to identify the lessons learnt, the wisdom drawn from your experiences or the reasons to celebrate in your day-to-day life, it may be worth reflecting more deeply.
If your passion has gone, or you have lost sight of why you do what you do, consider talking to someone who is trained to listen and help you hear yourself. You may need a rest, a change of direction, or just a good holiday. But being negative will simply suck the life out of you.
You may have heard that ‘life and death are in the tongue.’ Learning to use words to build ourselves and others up, to appreciate and to educate will produce rich rewards both professionally and personally.