Excerpted from the book on mindful business management, Business Black Belt.
When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.
~ Dale Carnegie, author & teacher
Sometimes negatives work to grab attention, but their literal meanings win out. Is that really the message you want to communicate?
Consider what you just did. The title clearly stated not to read this, but here you are reading. In fact, you probably jumped right to this section. Leaving aside a discussion of our perverse desire to do what others tell us not to do, let’s look at the impact of negatives on our thinking and our productivity. This isn’t going to be a discussion on positive thinking. It’s actually about using positive words versus negative words.
To this day, I remember many of the suggestions written in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. However, I don’t remember much of anything I read about what not to do.
If this chapter grabbed your attention because it said, “Don’t read this,” what do you think happens when you say, “Don’t forget?” To demonstrate further: If you were to say, “Don’t think of a banana,” of course, you immediately and automatically think of a banana. Where did the “don’t” go? It seems to disappear and we act upon what the action the “don’t” refers to.
We’re not helping ourselves or others by unconsciously saying things like “Don’t forget to send that FedEx.” So, “forget” is actually the subconscious command that stays in our minds. But if we were to say, “Remember to send that FedEx,” we’re actually assisting the other person by giving them a positive mental command. (I suppose that saying, “Don’t remember to send that FedEx,” would have the same effect.)
Always mentally translate from a double negative to positive. So, whenever you think to yourself or when someone tells you, “Don’t forget to…,” remember to simultaneously transpose that thought to “Remember to…” Consciously implant the positive form of suggestion—it’s the command your mind will follow.
Use this illustration as a tool to measure effectiveness:
In the simple graph above, the middle is zero or neutral, negative is on the left, and positive is on the right. If you were to say, “I don’t want to lose more customers,” where would you plot this statement in terms of its effect on your way of thinking? Somewhere near ‘A’ because you haven’t put a positive thought in your mind. In this case, your situation won’t get any worse—you won’t lose any more customers. It might move from A toward zero, but not into the positive because the statement is not positive. At best, you can reach neutral or 0 because stopping a negative only prevents your situation from getting worse. However, if you said, “I want to sell to more customers,” then you’re focused on the positive action you can take—you can go from A to the far positive end of the scale. The sky is the limit as to the possibilities available to you for improving your situation. This is powerful self-programming as well as successful communication with others.
Take a hint from successful direct marketers
I mentioned this before. We’ve all heard “You learn from your mistakes.” I began to wonder when I would start doing things right, because I had made a lot of mistakes and was pretty miserable. Then a wealthy and successful gentleman pointed out that I had been focused only on learning from my mistakes—and not from my successes. There are an infinite number of ways to screw up and fewer ways to be successful. (Why are there fewer successful people on the planet than unsuccessful people?) In direct marketing and mail-order, we constantly test everything: products, lists, offers, freebies, headlines, copy, and so on. We constantly look for what pulls the most and we discard what doesn’t work. We make notes of what didn’t work for us only to remember what we tested.
This won’t affect your golf game
If you play golf, for example, remember this thought when you’re about to hit the golf ball over a pond. Think to yourself, “Just hit the golf ball over the pond, but don’t look at the pond.” “Pretend the pond’s not there.” Or “Don’t think of the pond.” Of course, you’ll sink the ball into the water. The obvious focus should be to aim the ball at the green, not to avoid the pond. Let the pond be there, but focus on the green. Focus on where you want to go, not on where you don’t want to go. There’s a big difference between avoiding what you don’t want and focusing on what you do want. This concept applies to everything in life.
If we made a list of 10 reasons why businesses fail and another list of 10 reasons why businesses succeed, which list do you think is going to propel your business forward? Sure, you can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes and avoid things that don’t work, but you can learn a lot more from other people’s successes.
I read an article entitled “10 Reasons Why Most Businesses Fail” in a prominent publication that catered to small companies. I went berserk! I happen to know that the author’s own business had failed, and he didn’t even list that reason why! Reading this article is what inspired me to write down some ideas that eventually evolved into this book. I hope it’s more helpful to you in a positive way.
Business Black Belt Notes
• Use positive words instead of negative ones.
• In your mind, automatically replace “Don’t forget to…” with “Remember to….”
• If you use negative goals, at best you won’t get any worse.
• Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.
• You can learn a lot from mistakes, but you can learn a lot more from successes.