Communicate Positive Messages

by Stephen Boyd | May 31, 2004

Estee Lauder, famous for her cosmetics, died recently. Her message accompanying her product was positive and optimistic: "Beauty is an attitude." She also said that "There are no ugly women—only women who don’t care or who don’t believe they’re attractive." She referred to her products as "hope in a jar."

Her approach to her cosmetics should be our approach whenever we communicate. Communicate positive messages whatever your topic. People receive enough negative messages when reading the front page of a newspaper or listening to headline news on the hour.

When someone asks how you are doing, answer with a superlative. "I’m doing super," or "Fantastic," or "Great!" Avoid answers like "OK," or "I’m getting by," or "I’m glad it’s Friday." Don’t complain about your health or spend time talking about your personal problems. Keep an upbeat approach to your personal life.

Mention something good as a conversation starter. Describe a virtue of the current season of the year. "The flowers are beautiful in May." Affirm a hometown team that won recently. Tell about a good movie or a delightful new restaurant you have seen or visited recently. Comment on a new building going up or a community project that is benefiting a certain group of people.

Focus on the other person’s strengths. Find something good to say about him or her. Perhaps it is a piece of clothing he or she is wearing, or remembering a relevant comment that person made in a meeting recently, or the completion of a project that he or she was responsible for.

End on a positive note. People remember best what you say last. Be specific and not perfunctory. You can do better with most people than, "Have a great day." Think of the individual. "Enjoy your children over the week-end," or "Have a great time at the game," or "I know you will enjoy the movie."

It is easy to speak of the bad and the negative but it takes specific effort to keep our messages positive. To have the most influence in conversations, put a positive spin on your talk. People will associate you with positive things and will look forward to conversing with you.

About the Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.

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