As plain language experts, we often tell clients to use positive language. Even when explaining a negative situation, we recommend using as few negative words as possible. Many of us use this guideline based on marketing strategies. However, we now have science to back us up.
According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, Ph.D., your brain can change depending on the words you read, hear, write, or speak. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, they explain how our genes are influenced by language and how language affects our levels of stress. Our brain functions are influenced by words like “love” and “hope” and “care.” These words literally change how our genes influence our brain’s cognitive functions.
On the other hand, negative language interrupts the release of calming chemicals and instead increases fear. The result is that our brain is flooded with stress-producing hormones. Words such as “hate” and “fear” interrupt our ability to reason and think logically.
So if you want to drive clients or customers to action, or promote your company as responding to customer needs, use positive language. Let’s make our brains happy.
About the author: Deborah S. Bosley is the Owner and Principal at the Plain Language Group. She is a board member at The Center for Plain Language.