Whether you provide a professional writing service or you write because your boss tells you to, new and revealing data about how your brain works can guide you. One example: using positive language is beneficial to the brain and helps you avoid confusion and penetrate your target audience.
According to Dr. Andrew Newberg, co-author of the book “Words Can Change Your Brain,” people should try to make three positive comments for every negative statement. It makes sense to be positive (life is tough enough), but why does looking on the bright side help us communicate more effectively?
Dr. Newberg says that while there has to be a negative component to resolving a problem, “There’s a lot of evidence to show that negative words and negative emotions are detrimental to the brain, while positive words and positive emotions are beneficial,” he said in a Salon interview. “When you get into a dialogue with somebody to discuss any particular issue, a three-to-one ratio is a relatively good benchmark to think about; you wind up creating the opportunity for a more constructive dialogue and hopefully a better resolution.”
Texting and email are other subjects Dr. Newberg has touched on since they often cause people to frequently misunderstand each other – a big negative. So, can we be clearer (and convey more compassion) when using these communication tools?
Dr. Newberg gives a classic example: “I’m sure we’ve all experienced getting an email from somebody and thinking, ‘Wow, they’re really angry at me!’” And then that somebody says in response, “‘What? I was on the train; it was a little hard for me to write the email.’”
While acknowledging that new technology tools can be excellent ways of communicating with each other, Dr. Newberg notes that other elements like facial and body gestures and emotional inflections don’t often come across. It’s important to apply basic principles like “thinking about whether you’re respecting somebody when you’re sending them this text message or email, asking yourself how you think it’s coming across, being aware of your responses to things, and making sure you’re interpreting things correctly.”
In short, as another professional writing service pro once said, “before you push send, you may want to ask yourself, “Am I being kind and is the message necessary, timely and true.”
Using “he is” or “she is” sentences can also be unnecessarily negative, because, things are never exactly equal to something else. In other words, we are more complex than these simplified constructions suggest.
So, instead of, “He is a fool,” you might want to say, “He acted foolishly.” Instead of “She is depressed,” try “She looks depressed to me.” Instead of “I’m a failure,” how about “I think I failed at this task.”
Bottom line: good communication takes thought and sensitivity. Your friends, family, colleagues, clients – and your brain – will thank you.