WORDS ON THE BRAIN: which Q&A are more motivating?
“The meaning of my communication is the response that I get” is a core principle of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which I first learnt, sixteen years ago. Neuroscience has since re-confirmed that all our communication, including our own thinking and words, has an impact on our output, both in terms of how and what we communicate and what we get done.
My life-coaching and executive coaching clients will be aware that I actively support them to change their thinking (the clue is in the name of my business!) and words about what they say to themselves, to others and even how they write down their actions, so that they set themselves up for even greater success, satisfaction and happiness.
Depending on what each client prefers, I still use the word goal, however interchange it with outcome, as it could be argued that the word outcome is a presupposition i.e. implying that it is inevitable that it WILL happen.
To illustrate this further, here are some questions and as you read or ask them out loud, hear the difference in how the different words make you feel:
“What will you try to do this week?”
“What will you commit to doing this week?”
“What will you commit to finishing this week?”
“When will you finish X this week?”
“When will you let me know that you have completed X this week?”
Which question(s) will determine a more certain result?
What do you think about these phrases about taking action? For example:
“I will try and get X done.”
“I will research X”.
“I will email you this Friday with a shortlist of three options.”
“I will exercise three to five times this week.”
“I will exercise three times this week.”
“I will go to badminton twice and a run once this week.”
Which statement(s) do you think will result in the action being completed?
Words that inspire certainty and positivity will more likely create a calm, productive state in the brain, whereas words that induce ambiguity or negativity can activate the limbic system and stimulate a threat or fear response.
Therefore, whether you are writing a to-do list for yourself or helping your team to move forward with their own projects, how you ask and how they respond will determine results. However, there is no one correct solution as no two brains are alike: each individual will be motivated by different words. Of course, the same applies at home too! 😉