Want Change? Think and Speak Positive!

Posted on: December 29th, 2008 by Hayim Herring

In my last post, I explained why pictures, images and other visuals are so critical to any process of change. But words matter just as much when it comes to initiating and sustaining change. In striving for that desired new future, you have to describe it in emotionally-positive verbal messages.

I want to stress the importance of the message being positive, because message makers often choose fear as the emotion of choice when it comes to talking about change. “If we don’t increase membership revenue by instituting a new dues structure, we’re going to have to cut programs and services.” Contrast that negative message with, “If we start to utilize the talents of our volunteers more systematically, we can we maintain and even increase the array of programs and services we offer.”

Note that both messages have the same goal in mind—to at least maintain the current level of activity. The difference is that the first one draws upon desperation (a worst case scenario of what will happen), the second upon aspiration (using our potential to maintain and even exceed who we are).

Fear does have a place in fostering change. For example, it’s prudent in these times to make sure that security procedures are in place for emergencies. But the problem with an over reliance upon fear is that it often begets only immediate compliance. By focusing on hope about a better future, we become emotionally inspired to bring the best of ourselves to the process. Whoever said that the carrot is better than the stick was indeed correct!

Rabbi Hayim Herring

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