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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People

by Rich de Vos, 2008

Underlying theme of this book: Inspire others to use their talents and fulfill their potential.

A positive frame of mind changes how you think, it changes you, and it enables you to lift up other people. De Vos suggests everyone should develop the habit of looking for good in others. He asserts that a simple line can change a person’s life. A powerful phrase like “I’m proud of you” or “I believe in you” can be world-changing lines for some people.

Here are the Ten Powerful Phrases by de Vos with a question from me to you at the end of each phrase:
1.    I’m wrong – This is generally the hardest of the phrases to say according to de Vos. It’s meaningless unless it comes from the heart, not your lips, so you need to accept the very human fact that you can be wrong. Even if that admission hurts, you need to realize it’s simply human nature and that everyone makes mistakes. De Vos states that anyone can have a profound impact on others when they admit they are wrong. In conclusion: Wrongs are inevitable and denying their existence only creates arrogance and strife. We are not perfect, nor are we intended to be. Now that’s a relief. My question to you: In what kind of situations or circumstances is it most difficult for you to admit you’re wrong?

2.    I’m sorry – This goes along with admitting that you’re wrong, they are companions. Most politicians, many leaders, many people in general are more geared towards using words that defend their position than saying “I’m sorry”. Defending positions, using words to cover up rather than to enlighten, blaming the other guy, and avoiding responsibility can all occur when you choose a negative course instead of making a decision to be positive. The ability to say “I’m sorry” shows that you are able to see the other’s point of view, that you want to maintain a relationship, and that your ego is not too big to apologize. My question to you: When was the last time you said “I’m sorry” in a meaningful situation and what made it hard or easy?

3.    You can do it – This line should be adopted as everyone’s philosophy de Vos asserts. Reinforce the lessons of faith, optimism, and hard work. You will never discover how far you can go if you don’t start “doing it”. Even if you do it and fail, you have the strength and the courage to know how far you did get so that you’re going to try again, or do it differently next time, or take on a new job with greater confidence, de Vos argues. He advocates thinking big! Too many never try to do anything because they are afraid. Afraid of failure, that someone might criticize them or laugh at them or that they don’t have enough training or expertise. My question to you: Do you create and use opportunities to reinforce your own and others confidence with “You can do it”? and if not, what’s lacking or what’s blocking you?

4.    I believe in you – Being a believer is being an achiever (Norman Vincent Peale’s book The Power of Positive Living). Why not you, why not now, de Vos challenges his readers. You can show people you believe in them when you support their endeavors or causes. The same goes for yourself: You never know what you can accomplish until you test your beliefs by trying. Try or cry. My question to you: Can you think of three easy ways to reinforce your belief in yourself?

5.    I’m proud of you – Humans have the need to be recognized and acknowledged by those who mean the most to them. We want to feel that others are proud of us. And its most powerful when verbalized in public de Vos asserts. My question to you: Do you use the opportunity to recognize others to its fullest?”

6.    Thank you – It’s an acknowledgement of the other person’s generosity, it’s a demonstration of your gratitude when you say “Thank you”. Just feeling thankful isn’t enough, verbalizing it makes it real for the receiver. The question is not to be or not be, but to thank and to be thankful. We are often too slow to give thanks and too quick to complain according to de Vos. I agree. And therefore my question to you: “How do you score on the scale of gratitude and thankfulness?”

7.    I need you – You’ve heard it before, there is no “I” in the word “Team”. We need people for anything we do and for anything we are. We all share a responsibility for encouraging each other by acknowledging everyone’s contributions at every opportunity. “I need you” is an important message for leaders to convey. It inspires, motivates, and strengthens the sense of belonging, so crucial to humans. My question to you: “Are you a team player, do you show your appreciation of everyone’s value and contribution? What improvements can you make in this area?”

8.    I trust you – Trust is a key quality of leadership, in business and in private life. Can others (employees, customers, children, students) trust what we say is true and that we live our lives on the right path? Trust is developed through experience and it’s essential in friendship. As de Vos states it: Trust means we deliver as promised. My question to you: “Do you know how people rate you on trust? Do you easily trust or mistrust people?” What do you do when you doubt whether you trust someone?”

9.    I respect you – de Vos asserts that you earn respect by showing respect, which makes respect reciprocal. The all too important and often dangerously present ego is part of the game here: When you enter a room, do you convey: “Hey, here I am”, or “Ah, there you are?”  De Vos advices to ask questions if you don’t know what to talk about. Showing interest in everyone we meet is the highest form of respect, provided it is true interest from the heart I’d like to add, and not some trick to gain respect, attention etc. De Vos closes his arguments for this powerful phrase with the statement that we also need to show respect for the personal decisions and feelings of others, even when (or: especially when) those decisions may be contrary to what we believe is in our best interest. My question to you: “How do you deal with people with opposing styles and approaches?” “Do you feel you are getting the respect you deserve and what factors are at play?”

10.  I love you – This one encompasses all the previous phrases and speaks for itself, or not.
How about your messages to loved ones, friends, co-workers, customers? What phrases do you use? Do they empower you? Do they empower the people you are with? What can you do more off, what do you want to do less off? What do you want to keep and what do you want to throw out?

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