When communicationg around challenges, loss, difficulties, or outright defeat, hitting notes of graciousness is hard. There may be hurt, anger, or deep disappointment involved, all of which can cloud a person’s ability to be his or her best self. Or there may be intense competition in the air, which also makes clearheaded, articulate graciousness more difficult to draw on. Finding it somehow, even under these circumstances, is what distinguishes you as a leader. 

Yes, it may be difficult to get to higher ground, but speakers sound more appealing when they’re communicating positive and hopeful messages rather than negative and angry ones. They’re more likely to get things done, too, in that carrot-versus-stick way. In a study of the qualities and impact of positive and negative words publishes by EPJ Data Science in 2012, it was noted “that the process of communication between humans, which is know to optimizw information transfer also creates a bias towards positive emotional content… The expression of positive emotions increases the level of communication and strengthens social links.” The study found that the frequency of usage for positive words is higher than for negative words, but that negative words carry more information, becuase they serve a different purpose, namely, “that of transmitting highly informati ve and relevant events,” such as a threat or danger. Positive words, on the other hand, lead to more cooperation. 

If we step back, then, and look at the types of communications leaders are most often engaged in –motivating, inspiring, selling, persuading, influencing — we find an imperative for more positive words and phrasing. Leaders are responsible for cultivating teams and for maintaining and building their franchise, the brand, and the business. As former Chrysler CEO Lee Lacocca once said, “Management is nothing more than motivating people.”

[Excerpted from Jock Talk: 5 Communication Principles for Leaders as Exemplified by Legends of the Sports Worldhttp://amzn.to/1vkcxjz]

Beth Levine