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In our everyday lives, we often tend to think and express ourselves using negative language, the one that is filled with “don’t”, “not”, “can’t”, “won’t”, and all kinds of negative statements. Although most of us do not notice the impact of them––it’s a generations-long trend to communicate with each other––these statements affect our self-image, shape our outlook on life, and predefine our behavior. Whether you’re talking to children, colleagues, or to yourself, being able to put a positive spin on things is a skill worth having.

Why Use Positive Language?

From childhood to adulthood, there are many benefits to using positive language. These include conveying affirmative messages (what to do versus what not to do), helping to instill a positive mindset, and improving our overall well-being.

The people who are the most aware about using positive language are customer support employees. If you’ve ever talked to a customer support representative, you could have learned a lot from that conversation without even knowing it. Their secret is the language they use. They will rarely say “I can’t help you out, I don’t have enough information”, but rather “Let me put you through to someone who can help you with this issue precisely. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding.”

Can you notice the difference? Don’t worry, you don’t have to start dialing customer service numbers to learn how to speak in a positive, affirmative way. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed guide on positive language: what it is, what its benefits are, and how to use it. We will give you a number of examples and explain how they differ from negative ones.

Let’s dig in.

What Is Positive Language?

Words, written or spoken, are the main form of communication for most people, while non-verbal signs such as body posture or facial expression are secondary signs that help contextualize the message. The language we use is shaped and shapes (it’s a circular relationship) our cognition and thoughts.

Using positive or negative language in our everyday talk––and also in our self-talk––defines the relationship we have with the interlocutor, and it also affects the way we think and feel about ourselves, which leads to subsequent actions.

Unlike restrictive, uninformative, and limiting negative language, positive language is informative, proactive, and helpful. Here’s an overview of some of the most important differences between positive and negative language.

Negative language

Positive language

Tells the recipient what not to do.

Informs the recipient of what to do.

Doesn’t provide alternatives.

Provides the recipient with choices and alternative paths.

It can sound like blaming, shaming, or judging.

It’s helpful, reassuring, supportive, kind, empathetic.

It's passive.

It promotes affirmative action.

It’s restrictive and limiting.

It's encouraging.

It's reactive.

It's proactive.

Positive language is a technique of using positive words and affirmative forms to deliver a friendly and supportive tone to your interlocutors––be it customers, colleagues, children, family members, and, of course, yourself.

The Benefits of Using Positive Language

Improved Self-Perception

What kind of words do you use to describe yourself?

Do you think more about the things that you want and can do or things that you can’t and shouldn’t? Positive language can help you improve your self-perception and rewrite your narrative in a similar way to positive affirmations.

Positive words that describe your personality and abilities will help you see yourself in a more empowering, inspiring light. This will help you accept your complexes and love yourself the way you are; focus on your strong sides; understand how great is your unique personality while liberating yourself from self-limiting beliefs; and help you unleash your full potential for achieving what you truly deserve.

Negative language is a part of a fixed mindset and the belief that not much can be done to improve your life and broaden your abilities. It’s based on living in a comfort zone and avoiding unpleasant and unknown experiences instead of dealing with them.

Positive language supports the concepts of a positive mindset and a growth mindset and the belief that anything is possible if you work hard enough and if you have a clear idea of what to do. And that’s exactly what positive language gives you: motivation, positive self-perception, and character strength.

Improved Mood and Wellbeing

Because our language impacts our thoughts, and our thoughts impact our emotions, a simple switch from negative or neutral language to positive one can do tremendous change for our mood and overall well-being.

Negative language reflects a negative attitude and mood, whereas positive language communicates a supportive, confident, and cheerful attitude.

Inspiration for Others

Using positive language in your everyday communication can inspire others around you to think positively and work hard to achieve their goals, too. Positive language gives you a leadership role in your environment, and this type of personality becomes an inspiring role model for the people around you.

When you communicate in a positive, uplifting, affirmative language, you not only create a friendly atmosphere and set the bright mood, you also keep people motivated and excited to help.

Improved Workplace Environment

Positive language at the workplace can have immense benefits on the relationship quality between colleagues, company’s mission, team effectiveness, and the connection between employers and employees.

Furthermore, when you go to a job interview, the type of language you use can play a crucial role in whether you’ll be accepted or not because it reflects your intentions, enthusiasm, and eagerness to solve a certain problem. Your skillset can match the job description, but your language can reflect ambiguity, uncertainty, and a lack of initiative. Positive language, on the other hand, communicates determination, proaction, and self-confidence.

It’s “I’m not sure...”, “Well, I wouldn’t do this and that...”, “I might react…” versus “I know/I will figure out how to solve this problem”, “If you can give me an hour, I will look into this...” that makes a difference. Which ones do you choose?

Improved Child-Parent Relationship

By using positive language, you are modeling positive behavior to your children. Being constantly criticized with instructions like “Stop doing that...”, “You can’t do this...”, “This is not how it’s done...”, etc. leads children to feel bad and defensive, get frustrated, confused, and lose the freedom–and curiosity–to explore this world in their own way.

Positive language, on the other hand, encourages children to take responsibility for their actions, make appropriate choices on their own and boost their self-esteem. It allows children to focus and learn from the positive behaviors instead of focusing on negative ones.

Examples of Positive Language

Choosing the right words, both spoken and written, and communicating them in the way that motivates and inspires action can turn any difficult conversation and challenging situation into something good. Positive language isn’t about staying away from negative, difficult topics or sharing unpleasant news with a forced smile–it’s about using language that reassures, inspires, and gives alternatives.

Let’s look at these examples.

Negative language

Positive language

I can’t find this.

Let me look it up.

No problem.


I’m not bad/I’ve been worse.

I am good/I am doing great.

I can’t complain.

Things are going really well for me, thank you for asking.

Don’t give up!

Keep going, you’re doing a great job.

I am not stressed.

I’ve been relaxed and calm in the past period.

Don’t be so rough!

Be gentle.

I’m not doing the best I can.

I can/I will do more.

You can’t have your dessert until you finish your dinner.

Once you finish your dinner, you can have dessert.

My hair is not that bad today.

My hair looks really good today!

The results I’ve accomplished are not bad.

I’ve accomplished some good/great results.

I’m not far from achieving my goal.

I’m very close to achieving my goal.

Sorry I’m late.

Thank you for waiting for me.

Sorry that I messed up.

Thank you for being patient when I made a mistake.

Sorry that I talk too much.

Thank you for listening to me.

Sorry that I asked for this favor.

Thank you for helping me out.

Sorry I’ve been distant.

Thank you for being understanding.

I have so much left to do.

There’s more to do, but I’m proud of my progress.

I hate feeling this way.

I am not my feelings, I am the one who feels them.

This is too complicated.

I’ll tackle this from a new angle.

I’m terrible at this.

I’m learning, it’s okay to be uncomfortable.

I made a huge mistake.

What can I learn from this? How can I fix this?

Tips for Implementing Positive Communication

You’ll need to be very focused and mindful of the words you use on a daily basis in order to restructure your language. You can start by avoiding negative words and rephrasing certain statements like “No problem!” or “I can’t find it!”. Soon enough, as your mind slowly rewires for positivity, you’ll start using positive language naturally.

While some elements will take a little practice, especially your speech given its fast and sometimes spontaneous pace, here are some simple tips you can implement right away:

  1. Reword phrases that have negative words like “can’t”, “won’t”, “don’t”, “stop”, “shouldn’t” and also those beginning with negative prefixes such as -un, -in, -ir ( (inconvenient, unpleasant, incompetent, irresponsible, etc).
  2. When communicating that something can’t be done, instead of apologizing, offer an alternative. This helps the conversation move forward and creates a solution-oriented atmosphere.
  3. Keep an attitude of gratitude and notice the small things even in unpleasant situations. When faced with negative feedback or feeling stuck, search for an opportunity to grow. This will help you maintain a bright, positive tone and outlook.
  4. Use kind words––they serve as tension breakers. In the same way, saying compliments, expressing gratitude, or asking someone what you can do to make a situation better can go a long way.
  5. Keep your body language positive. Smile when you are talking and maintain an open body posture. When you are feeling stressed, do some breathing exercises to calm yourself down, try to keep your body relaxed, and speak slowly (otherwise, your interlocutor will feel stressed and anxious as well).

Positive language creates effective communication that leaves both you and the listener feeling good, confident, and inspired during and after the conversation. It also promotes a positive self-talk, creates a friendly atmosphere wherever you are, helps you achieve your goals, and builds strong and nurturing relationships based on support, respect, and kindness. As Julien C. Mirivel puts it, communicating positively is about being intentional. “As a leader, a parent, a partner, or a friend, we can all choose to use our words to do a little good”.

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