Negativity keeps us stuck and impacts the quality of our lives. Negativity costs companies billions of dollars.

Negativity can sometimes be disguised as objectivity.

“No” can be a negative word depending on its delivery, context, and the sensitivity level of the person receiving it. Yet “no” is a word that can help us focus and redirect ourselves and our teams to the important yes’s! Hence the irony of “no” – it can keep us stuck, but it can also help us focus.

The challenge is to be able to say “no” without the negativity attached. For some, “no” is easy. For others, “no” can be difficult, whether because of peer pressure, the desire to please, or fear of conflict. The irony of “no” is that it must be used to affirm rather than to deny. “No” keeps a person or team from going down a wrong path or taking inappropriate action. “No” keeps the larger, more important path in focus—the path you want to say yes to. The challenge is to say no when it is necessary and in a way that keeps things moving forward.

Rephrasing your No’s:  “No, we will never do that!” – This statement can be interpreted as negative. How negative depends on the speaker’s body language, vocal tone, what “that” is, and the receiver’s sensitivity level for negativity.

Here’s some rephrasing of, “Now, we will never do that!:”

  • “Right now, we are planning to do something else.”
  • “In a different situation, we might do that.”
  • “We have found out that when that is done here, these things happen…”
  • “What alternatives might there be to that?”
  • “Thanks for the suggestion.”
  • “Today I don’t think that is appropriate, what else can you suggest (or what about?)”

The less negative a statement is perceived, the more solutions open.

Less negativity allows for more innovation, participation, creativity, and problem-solving.

The challenge is to remove both negativity and perceived negativity. One approach is to practice saying the same thing in a positive form. Modify the statement to have the same meaning removing all negative words like “no,” “never,” “but,” and “can’t.” It takes practice and commitment to change the words we use until it becomes a habit.