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Chantal’s Influence Tips 58: Leveraging Language – Part Three: Say what you mean!


In a recent Yoga session, the teacher said
“Don’t worry about your breathing”,

Throughout the class, she continued to tell us what NOT to do and what NOT to be concerned about. I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to follow an instruction that tells me
what I should be doing, alongside the examples of what not to do.
Imagine going to the supermarket with a list of all the things you don’t want to buy!
You’ve probably heard the example “Don’t think of a pink elephant”. In terms of how we process instructions, we have to think about the pink elephant before we can NOT think about it! 
A friend of mine told me a story about when his house was broken into. The policewoman kindly told him that ‘she didn’t want him to feel scared and be wondering who is outside the house watching’.  How’s that for making someone feel secure! Her intention was positive but she didn’t realise that how she was saying it was reinforcing his feelings of insecurity.
2 good reasons for minding your language:
1) You could be placing negatives or problems in people’s minds (which is OK if that’s what you intend to do).
2) You could be making people work too hard to make sense of what you’re saying – which means you might lose their attention / interest.
My recommendation is to tell people what you want them to hear/think  based on the direction you want to take people in or the outcome you want.
Here are some do’s and don’ts :-


We don’t want you to feel under pressure to do this  
(unless you do – in which case, say it this way!)
There’s no pressure, so you can relax..
Don’t worry about the volume of work   There’s alot to do but it’s fine because it will get done..
I don’t want you to think we’re being pushy 
You can probably tell we’re keen to move things on
It’s useful to consider what you want people to hear and how you want them to feel as a result of your communication.
Now don’t think you need to master this straight away – just allow yourself to become more aware.
Chantal Burns ScreenshotChantal Burns

Executive Coach, Speaker and Bestselling Author of

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