Thursday, 24 July 2014

Watch what you say

Have you ever considered what impact the words you use have on the way you represent the world in your mind? Our language colours our perception throughout the day and impacts on our self-belief, our behaviour, our confidence and our emotions. When we think about the future, for instance, we play an internal movie representing how we expect that future to be (or less visual people play a radio show). Our words play an important role in our internal representations as they are effectively the script of the movie. The words that we use mostly in day to day life will therefore determine the kinds of movie we play. If we constantly use negative words such as  ‘worry’, ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘stress’, we end up creating disaster movies in our minds. .

An experiment was carried out at New York University where subjects were primed with words associated with old age by getting them to rearrange cards with individual words on them to form a sentence. Each of the sentences included words such as ‘worried’, ‘forgetful’, ‘bingo’, ‘lonely’, ‘grey’ and ‘Florida’ (if you’ve been to Florida you will know why), all words which could be associated with the elderly. Waiting outside the room where the priming took place were researchers who secretly timed each of the subjects as they made their way to the room at the beginning of the experiment and as they left the building at the end. Interestingly, the ‘old age’ words seemed to have a profound effect on the subjects as they were significantly slower leaving the room as they had been when they arrived.

If you want to be happy, excited, fulfilled, relaxed or motivated, make sure your script is the right one!

Andy Barton
Performance consultant

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