Writing TechniquesStyle ImprovementsWhy should we use positive language?

Why should we use positive language?

Why should we use positive language?

The words you use can have a huge impact on how your message is received by your reader. When writing for business it's important to use positive language to help build rapport with your reader.

Negative phrases like “no,” “I can't,” and “that's not possible,” sound obstructive. They immediately make your reader think that you're being difficult. Our natural reaction is to avoid interactions with negative people and conversations because they make us feel bad.

Conversely, positive words and phrases such as "yes," "I'd love to," or "I will", sound constructive and immediately make your reader think you're being helpful. When you read positive language, it immediately makes you better disposed to the writer, even if the positive language involves a problem.

Even bad news can be framed with positive language. Often you can rephrase a negative statement to be more positive.

Example:

  • Negative: I'm not available until Wednesday to review your proposal.
  • Positive: I'll be happy to review your proposal on Wednesday when I'm back in the office.

    When you're designing email marketing campaigns or outbound sales campaigns, using positive language is even more important. Using positive language will increase the likelihood of success and reflect well on your brand.

When responding to someone who's sent you a negative email it's really easy to be negative too. This is only natural. But it leads to a downward spiral of negative emotions that doesn't resolve the issue and just leaves both sides upset. Instead try to be twice as positive in your response as you would have been otherwise. That will immediately reset the conversation and will hopefully lead to a better outcome.

Interestingly, trying to use more positive language in your life in general can positively affect your mood. The more positive language you use, the more positively people will react to you: a literal positive feedback loop. Try to be aware of when you're using negative language and rephrase it. You'll be surprised at how it helps everything in your life.

ProWritingAid includes a positive language score for sales and marketing documents. If you haven't scored as highly as you'd like then re-read your message. Look for anywhere you've used "not" or "no" or other negative words like "blame" or "careless". See if you can re-write these phrases to be more positive. Even if you're trying to reprimand someone, adopting a more positive and constructive tone will make them more likely to pay attention to your message and change.

Example:

  • Negative: I think you've been careless with the month end reports and I expect a better result next time.
  • Positive: I'd appreciate it if you'd spend a bit more time and care with the month end reports next time.

If you're running a customer service desk you might even want to create style guide rules that specifically prohibit certain negative phrases. This will automatically prompt your team to change negative language to be more positive, and it will make sure that you only have satisfied customers.

ProWritingAid's positive language score is driven by artificial intelligence. It's designed to give you a good feel for how positive your language use it. Language is complex though, so if you don't agree with it that's fine. Just use it as a useful reminder to try to be positive in your communications.

Words We Flag as Negative

Here are some of the words we flag as negative so you can avoid them in your writing:

  • Aren't
  • Cannot
  • Can't
  • Didn't
  • Doesn't
  • Couldn't
  • Haven't
  • Nothing
  • Nowhere
  • Hardly
  • Rarely
  • Despite
  • Occasional
  • Scare
  • Slightly
  • Somewhat
  • Sort of