Mastering the language of cheer

This amusing story of Al Smith, former governor of New York, is told from when he made his first inspection of Sing Sing prison. Upon meeting the inmates and urged by the warden to say a few words to them, the governor began earnestly, “My fellow citizens.” No sooner than he uttered these words, he stopped confounded by the fact that some inmates may have forfeited their citizenship. So he continued, this time with the words, “My fellow convicts.” When the roar of laughter that ensued died down, he finally and cheerfully said, “Well, anyhow, I’m really glad to see so many of you here.”

Although there is no record of what he said after that, and despite the absurdity of the words, one can picture the cheer and positivism that the inmates must have felt upon hearing those cheerful and positive words of the governor. It must have sent ripples of optimism amidst the gloomy atmosphere of the prison.

Words are the tools with which we communicate, and they form the basis of our interactions, personal and official. Whether written or oral, words make a language, and when strung together, they convey information, ideas, opinions and feelings. As the basic medium of exchange, words carry in them a message and can build or break the addressee’s morale and mood. Considering that a vast majority of people are weighed down with problems big and small in life, what they would like to hear is something that will lift them and help them cope with their daily struggles.

According to a study conducted by Dr Herbert H Clark, a psychologist from The John Hopkins University, it was discovered that it takes the average person about 48% longer to understand a negative sentence than it does to understand a positive one. It can, therefore, be concluded that when we use a cheerful and positive language we are likely to be understood and appreciated better than when we use negative and cynical language.

Choosing words that convey cheer and optimism, however, can be a daunting skill. Even so, the ability in doing this can make us effective communicators. Learning and mastering the art of using cheerful and positive language in communication can be an easy and enjoyable exercise with some basic study and practice.

First things first

The first and primary study in the art of speaking the language of cheer and positivism is to build-up on the stock of cheerful and positive words. The words we use come from the word-bank stored in our minds and the larger the stock of cheerful and positive words, the greater is the chances for our communication to be cheerful and positive.

Building up our vocabulary of cheerful and positive words and constantly adding to that word-bank will urge and encourage the use of cheerful and positive language in our communication. This, in turn, will send cheerful and positive vibes to those we interact with, gaining for ourselves their goodwill and friendship. As Mark Twain rightly observed, “A man’s character may be learnt from the adjectives which he habitually uses in his conversation.”

Likewise, to be a practitioner of cheerful and positive language, we must learn to keep away from the naysayers and the cynics. All too often, the naysayers and the cynics are louder than the optimists. We are constantly bombarded and discouraged by them.

Those who speak the negative language outweigh the ones who believe and practice positivity in their language. Although it is believed that constructive criticism has the ability to propel us to better performance, constant negativity can be demoralising and discouraging.

Besides, it has also been proved that the naysayers can influence our speech patterns. A vast majority of the naysayers spew out negativism out of sheer habit and not necessarily out of any constructive opinion. Avoiding such people and consciously minimising interaction with them will keep away the negative influence that these people have on our communication styles.

Empathy’s key

Another important element that makes our communication cheerful and positive is the pleasing factor of empathy. As Anthony Robbins said, “To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

When we discern and learn to appreciate the uniqueness or even the quirkiness of those with whom we interact, we automatically choose to see the lighter side of things and so keep our communication lighthearted and cheerful rather than antagonistic and negative.

Finally, showing gratitude adds elements of cheer and positivity in our language. Joy cannot be far behind a person who is grateful for life, and to people around, despite life’s hardships. Being grateful and expressing gratitude through myriad ways, big and small, automatically laces our language with cheer and optimism and makes the world a happier place to live and to communicate!

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