Mind Your Manners: Swap a Negative For a Positive

Rather than allow every nuisance you encounter in your day to bring out a negative responses, see if as a positive. Sound a bit too aspirational? keep reading as we think this outlook is one worth aspiring to--and here’s why.

Verbal and non-verbal communication has a large impact on ourselves and others. Because we are social beings, this communication is key to how we experience our lives.

Language plays a critical role in how we come to understand emotions from even a very young age. The relationship goes both ways: our emotions affect our language and our language can influence our emotions.

Brain scans show that the word “no” and other negative words create negative physiological responses in our bodies. On the other hand, positive words and thoughts can motivate us to take action and improve self-control and confidence.

It doesn’t stop there. The facial expressions and body language we use has just as large an impact on how we see ourselves and how others see us.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy studies the effect of facial and body language on our lives.

Her research found that adopting empowering or diminishing body language influences how we feel about ourselves and the hormones our body produces.

Those adopting powerful stances feel more assertive and testosterone levels increase. So, as it turns out, we can indeed “fake it ‘til we make it” when it comes to body language. The takeaway: use more positive body and facial language to help bring more positive vibes into your day.

How do we apply this to real life?

“Let’s turn the table on aggravating or stressful events and see them as opportunities for positivity.”

When…You disagree with someone in conversation.

Instead of: Frowning, crossing your arms, using a raised tone of voice and responding with “But…” or “No…”

Try: Open body language with hands relaxed or folded, an attentive facial expression, a calm tone of voice and expressions that allow you to find common ground such as “I can see what you mean…” and “I can understand why you feel that way…”

When...You’re forced to wait in line.

Instead of: Tapping your fingers and feet nervously, rolling your eyes, tensing your forehead and frowning…

Try: Using acceptance and understanding while standing up straight and alert with a calm, patient, and even friendly look on your face. Smile if you make eye contact. This lets those around you know that it’s OK to wait a few minutes--even in today’s busy world.

When you get to the front of the line, let the person serving you know you’re not bothered by saying things like “No worries…” and “It happens…” Both of you will feel better for it.

When...Someone is being rude.

Instead of: Feeding the frustration with a shocked facial expression or saying “Excuse me…!” or “What the…?”

Try: Breathing through the knee-jerk irritation you feel, use some perspective, and delay any reaction. If in conversation with them, change the topic if possible and try smiling to allow things to smooth over. Avoid crossing your arms which is a defensive position.

When...You made a mistake.

Instead of: Saying things such as “Wow, what an idiot…” or “Of course…”

Try: Taking a deep breath and acknowledge that mistakes are a part of life. Use positive and encouraging self-talk such as “There’s a lesson to be learned,” “It’s OK,” “It’s not the end of the world,” and “I’ll just keep doing my best.”

We say a lot with our words and our bodies. Let’s make them count towards a more positive life experience for ourselves and for others.