#264 from Innovative
Leader Volume 6, Number 3
Subtleties Influence Your Management Abilities
Perry, an organizational psychologist, is president of JM Perry
Corporation in Palo Alto, California (phone 800-358-2082, email email@example.com,
He has written over 50 articles on management, leadership
and team performance, and is co-author of The
Road to Optimism—Change Your Language…Change Your Life (Manfit
Press, San Ramon, CA, 1997).
we say something is just as important as what
we say. Managers can
better communicate by an inclusive
rather than exclusive
manner. By inclusive,
I mean the mental state of optimism; while exclusive is pessimism.
You can change the way you say things so they come out
inclusive, positive. When
you convey an optimistic attitude, you gain more control over
yourself and get more from your staff and co-workers.
I’d like to make this point by using several areas that
managers routinely deal with.
We are always
evaluating and making judgments.
Mostly, we’re unknowingly making evaluations in
exclusion. Here are
"Not as bad as I thought."
"I don't have a problem with that."
"I don't see any reason why we couldn't do it."
"It certainly wouldn't be out of the question."
Instead of saying
that it "wouldn't be out of the question," you might
say, "I certainly would consider it."
Instead of saying, "It wasn't as bad as I
thought," you might say, "It was actually better than I
change affects your feelings, which affects your thoughts and your
influence on the listener.
When you evaluate
something, you're making judgment calls. The likelihood that you will feel pessimistic about an idea
because of your speaking in exclusion is very high. You're much more likely to be optimistic and to move forward
when you're speaking in inclusion.
So instead of saying, "Not bad," say,
I can't argue
I'm inclined to agree with that.
I can't complain.
I think it's okay.
I'm not ignoring
I'm aware that's a consideration.
If nothing gets
in our way.
If everything goes as planned.
says to you, "Thanks so much.
I really appreciate everything you did." Often you say, "No problem.
It was nothing, nothing at all."
The first impulse I have when someone says, "no
problem," is to say, "Wait a second, you mean there
would have been a problem?"
Often in giving
appreciation, you will try to give it by saying, "I really
don't know how to thank you," or "I really don't know
how to express my thanks."
This can give you the feeling of a deficit or inadequacy.
"I really don't know how to thank you," could be
changed to "It's so difficult for me to figure out a way to
properly thank you." In
either receiving appreciation or giving it, it is to your
advantage to speak in present
and positive terms. It does
good things for you and for the other person.
Here are some
examples of inclusionary promotional advertising:
because America wants to succeed, not just survive."
not us, who? If not
Pirelli Tires: "Power
is nothing without control."
Paul Mason Wines: "We
will sell no wine before its time."
Vidal Sassoon: "If
you don't look good, we don't look good."
American Express: "Don't
leave home without it."
These ads are
promoting these products in an exclusionary fashion. Every day, you’re promoting something, whether it be
yourself, a program or an attitude.
The point is to be aware that we are surrounded by various
types of language. If
you are to keep control of your own optimism, it is best to limit
negative or exclusionary language.
It seems that
everywhere we turn, we’re told not
to do something. It's
as if we were kids again and constantly being watched for our own
safety. Whenever you
see a sign posted, it almost always tells you what you are not
able to do. Suppose
you were to rewrite the signs so they gave their instructions in
inclusion as opposed to exclusion.
What might they say?
Instead of saying, "No Smoking," you could say,
"Smoke Free Area."
Instead of saying, "No Eating in This Room," you
could say, "Eating Prohibited in This Room."
Instead of saying, "No Entrance," you could say,
Instead of "No Littering," you could say
"Keep this area clean."
It's clear to me
that we should have a lot more signs telling us what’s
acceptable or what is unacceptable in a language of inclusion.
This creates an entirely different feeling, and a greater
likelihood that we would want to obey the recommendation.
This is one of my
favorite categories because when you really understand how to
position your persuasion methods in inclusion, you’ll have so
much more horsepower when it comes to influencing people.
In many business
relationships, co-workers attempt to persuade each other with some
form of "why don't you" or "why don't we."
"Why don't we get together on Monday?"
"Why don't we stop doing this?"
"Why don't I send that to you?"
"Why don't I bring the contract over?"
If you and your
co-worker are deciding where to eat, and one of you says,
"Why don't we go to Rudy's?"
The other's first unconscious impulse is to begin to answer
the question, "Well, there are three reasons why we don't go
to Rudy's. One, I
don't want to drive that far; two, I don't really like the food at
Rudy's; and three, it's too expensive."
interesting is that when you ask somebody, "Why don't
we/you?," the receiver frequently resists with some form of a
if you were to change the question from exclusion to inclusion,
from "why don't you/we" to "How about," or
"Let's," the ambivalent person is much more likely to be
Though it can be
annoying, one of the ways in which I encourage people around me to
become aware of their tendency to use the "Why don't"
phrase is to answer the question specifically.
If someone says, "Why don't we get together on
Monday?", then I might say, "Well, as I think about it,
there might be three reasons why we don't get together on
after that will they be aware of their tendency to use "Why
don't you/we." The
sheer change from exclusion to inclusion, from "Why don't
we?" to "Let's" or "How about", makes
wholesale changes in the way in which the sender feels about the
remark and how the receiver accepts it.
Here are some additional suggestions:
Instead of saying, "Why don't you call me on
Monday?", say, "How about you call me on
Instead of saying, "Why don't you get me the
report?", say, "How about getting the report?"
Instead of saying, "Why don't you quit
worrying?", say, "What are your thoughts about the
You're going to
get much more persuasive strength when you use, "What are
your thoughts," "How about," or "Let's,"
in trying to get other people to sign up to your suggestions.
linked to language. This
makes it a very good area in which to apply language skills. Your language can make a huge difference when you want to
impact your own motivation as well as the motivation of those
Some people are
motivated by going toward a goal or an objective if they see
benefits. This means
that when they decide to take action or commit their resources,
they do so because they are interested in the benefits.
They are "going toward" oriented, going toward
the pleasure, toward the benefit.
They do something in the interest of the payoff they’ll
There are also
people who are very "going away" oriented.
In making decisions, their motivation is simply to avoid
risk and minimize pain. They
are reluctant to make quick decisions of any kind.
They're always hedging their bets, covering their
backsides, and they are continually second-guessing, wary of
decisions of any kind. Going
away from pain is a much more powerful motivator to them than
going toward pleasure. If
you try to persuade them by explaining the benefits of a course of
action, they will almost always resist you, because they are
interested only in minimizing risk instead of maximizing benefits.
These people generally are more afraid and negative.
They tend to be more pessimistic in their thinking and
likely exclusion-oriented in dialogue.
I believe that
most people prefer to think of themselves as "going
toward" when it comes to their motivation.
However, it's clear that it's very difficult to be a
"going toward" person if you're always speaking in the
language of "don't, never, and can't."
You might be
quite pleased to see how your outlook changes when you speak in
inclusion. You might
even slowly watch your motivation change from a going away
perspective to one that goes toward your objectives.
toward" is definitely preferable as a motivator. So to increase this likelihood, speak in terms of "yes,
always, and can." Then
watch the gradual transformation of yourself and those around you
from "going away" to "going toward."
Your motivation will have a healthier and powerful feel.
from exclusion to inclusion will require some practice.
As with all new learning, it will seem out-of-place and
artificial at first. I encourage you to avoid becoming fanatical
and fearful of every word you plan to utter.
But focus on the good stuff, the choices you can make in
your words that will lead to uplifting results that you desire.