Recently it struck me (again) about the power of how we talk to each other. It was after stopping to chat to someone on my dog walk and as they were talking a lot of their conversation had phrases like “just my luck” “I’m okay, things could be better” and “you know what it’s like – everything’s a bit of a struggle right now.” I walked away feeling quite weary.

Now, there is every chance that everything “is a bit of a struggle right now” but I then realised that most of their conversations are made up like this and I wondered how it affected their mental wellbeing? Do people assume that their life is tough, that nothing good ever happens for them, that they are always unlucky?

How do you communicate?

I started noting how I communicated with people, just on a general day to day basis and what I found really interesting was it was very easy to reflect back at people depending on how they communicated so if they were sarcastic, so was I, if they were humorous, I tried to be funny too and so it went on.

For example – one person who I chat to, likes to communicate with an element of sarcasm, they can be funny with it but it could also be viewed as a little negative “Oh, I see you’ve dressed for the weather again, hope we don’t get the weather you’re expecting” (I was unfortunately kitted out in full waterproofs, was boiling hot as the sun unexpectedly made an appearance.) In this instance, I made a “funny” comment about myself, slightly derogatory to make them laugh but it certainly didn’t leave me feeling great, I felt a bit daft.

A phrase I rarely use, if ever, is – “Just my luck” it’s a phrase that my Mum would always pick up on and question in other people and we’d talk about how negative that could sound. What does it actually mean? Are you incredibly lucky or unlucky? Why you? What would happen if you stopped using that very well used phrase?

Having noted various conversations, I decided that I wanted to see what the reaction would be if I practiced positive speech. If I omitted the negatives, if I dropped the sarcasm and most importantly, talked about what I had been doing with positivity – not surprisingly, it was an eye opener.

Conversation example

Them: How are you?

Me: I’m having a good week thanks.

Them: That’s nice to hear, I’ve been having a bit of a rubbish time of it recently.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve been enjoying the sun when it appears, lots of nice dog walks and work has been really busy.

Them: Lucky you! I wish I could say the same.

(well, you could actually but you’ve chosen to highlight how rubbish things are right now.)

Me: Sorry, I can’t stop – I’ve got some jobs to catch up on and then I’m going to treat myself to a cream cake because it’s Wednesday and I can.

Them: It’s never ending is it, the jobs I mean, I don’t know where to start today and I better not treat myself, I need to lose a few pounds ha ha.

And on I walked………….with a wave of the hand and “have a good day?”

I’m not talking about our nearest & dearest.

Right – so I’m not talking about our nearest and dearest here, I’m talking about those we bump into, those we might stop and pass the time of day with.

This applies to telephone calls too and that might be with those we love and care for – if the conversation is heavy, if you don’t have the capacity right now, choose when you call. Be armed with some positive topics and avoid the negativity, every conversation doesn’t have to be an emotionally supportive one!

We don’t have to share our innermost thoughts, we can choose to practice positive speech and if we really don’t feel positive that day, avoid stopping or calling.

Changing the way we talk.

I found that changing the way I talked to people in my everyday life, the shopkeeper, the dog walker, the person I bumped into in the street that I don’t know that well, meant that I felt SO much better throughout the day. Keeping it light or keeping it brief is the way forward for me.

How could you change your speech to be lighter and more positive?