Positive language is a tool with an enormous potential to reduce conflict, improve communication and inculcate the right attitude. It is even capable of changing an individual’s line of thought. However, positive language needs to be put more into practice.
In the previous part of this lesson, we looked at a caselet to understand how conversation without positive language looks like. In this part of the lesson, we will understand the science behind negativity in conversations.
Take this lesson to learn more and don’t forget to take the accompanying quiz.
This lesson is in video format.
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Why do negative comments and conversations stick with us for so long?
A sharp remark from a customer service professional, a disagreement with a colleague, a fight with a friend – the sting from any of these can make you forget a month’s worth of positive strokes. You’re likely to remember and internalize negativity far more than you would the positive.
Neurochemistry plays a big role in this phenomenon. When we hear negative comments such as criticism or rejection, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that shuts down the logical center of our brains and activates survival behaviors. We become more reactive and sensitive. We perceive even greater judgment and negativity than what exists. And these effects can last in our body for twenty-six hours or more, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behavior. Cortisol functions like a sustained-release tablet – the more we focus about our negativity, the longer the impact lasts.
This would explain why Sushmita decided to complain.
Now, positive comments and conversations produce a chemical reaction too. They help release oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others. But oxytocin disappears from our system quicker than cortisol, so its effects are less sustained.
This “chemistry of conversations” is why it’s so critical – especially for customer service professionals and people managers – to be more mindful about the words they use.
We must learn to use positive language in our interactions.