Positive Power

Winter 2007

Positive Power


In balancing the information in each issue, the last focused on the big picture…global concepts, major trends, and issues. Here are some ideas for helping you, on multiple fronts, in gaining marketing acceptance, in gaining acceptance to project solutions, and in fact achieving the kinds of outcomes you’d really like.

The “Trigger”?

First, in workshops aimed at improving presentation skills – and those helping improve proposal effectiveness, as well – participants consistently experience a huge difference in the impact of positive words versus negative words.

“Unforeseen difficulties.”
“Regulatory morass.”
“Cost overruns.”

The same is true of double negatives …

“You want to avoid litigation.”
“You don’t want to blow your budget.”
“You don’t want to fall way behind schedule.”

Listeners and readers feel the impact of the negative word, feel sad or uncomfortable – even fearful – and look for better alternatives…such as hiring someone who makes them feel better, or approving solutions that feel more positive.

The second Trigger, from the book “The Secret,” (Rhonda Byrne, Atria Books) takes this consistent and observable phenomenon even further. The book describes a phenomenon of the universe they call “The Law of Attraction.” Essentially, it says that if you ask for something – as specifically as possible – it will simply happen. Sounds a little far-fetched, but they provide a huge number and range of examples, coming from a large variety of people, today and in history. One of the catches…

You must state what you want in positive terms.

If we want “less debt,” the universe only hears “debt” and gives us debt. One example came from Mother Teresa, who said she would not participate in an “Anti War Protest” but would go to a “Peace Rally.” If we think about political slogans…

“The War on Terror”

“The War Against Drugs”
“The Fight Against Organized Crime”

Or, from the film, “Crazy People”

It helps you go to the toilet.
If you don’t use it, you’ll get cancer and die.”

The negative – or double-negative – terminology instills greater levels of discomfort and even fear. And results seem to point to increases in terrorism, drug use, and organized crime. Positive wording describing the same things…

“Smooth sailing.”
“Regulatory approvals.”
“Under budget and ahead of schedule.”

…instills a more comfortable feeling in clients…and evidently actually increases the likelihood of those outcomes. In addition to requesting what you want, “The Secret” also indicates that visualizing what you want, as though you already have it, increases the power of your request. In training for Olympics competition, runners who visualize running their race have the same physiological measurements in heartbeat, etc. as when they physically run the race. As they visualize themselves winning their race, they also seem to win their actual races more consistently.

In proposal writing, one of the techniques that’s proven especially powerful in causing clients to want to hire that firm is the “imagine” statement…

“Imagine looking at commuter traffic at rush hour,

seeing cars flowing at maximum highway speeds, and thinking…
‘That new bi-pass really makes a difference!’”

In creating written pieces – letters, letter proposals, proposals, reports – it’s relatively easy to comb through a final draft and eliminate negative verbiage. In daily dialogue or in both formal and informal presentations, catching ourselves using negatives or double-negatives is more difficult. We all have in-grained habits.

In real-time modes, we can’t do a “replay” and edit what came out of our mouth.

We probably have to actually change our thinking to the positive form, so only positive words emerge from our mouths. The concept may be more difficult to do than to conceptualize. In presentations, the best way to re-train your thinking to the positive may be through rehearsals. Colleagues sitting on the client side can look specifically for negatives and can give you corrective feedback. Then they can tell you candidly if it made a difference in how they felt when you made the switch.

The “Power of Positive Thinking” – a term we’ve often heard – may actually be more powerful than the lip service we give to the saying. Making the habit change will likely take repetition. However, the results – in marketing success, in acceptance of our ideas and solutions, and in actual outcomes – may be well worth it.