I think it is quite well known that thinking a certain way leads to becoming a certain type of person. This is essentially true for both positive and negative thinkers. We tend to attract very like-minded people or we subtly change to end up like the people we spend most time with.
So we know our thoughts can govern what is going on around us in the long run but in the short-term it is what we say that has the most impact. But, more importantly it is how we say it. Of course there is the tone of your voice and body language which is all taken into account by the listener that is providing they are listening at all.
Nowadays with twitter and text messaging almost forcing us to get to the point, the meaning of what we say gets lost just so that you can get your message across in the shortest possible time. Just adding a couple of words at the beginning or the end can make a whole lot of difference.
You have the ability to change so much around you by simply changing how you say things – not the message, just how you say it. For example if you say “I believe that is the best song this year,” that is a statement that nobody can argue with, its your belief. But if you said “this song is the best this year,” then that becomes something that can be argued with and is very often followed by a debate on whether you are right or wrong. Of course there is no winning that debate and very often it’ll turn into an argument.
It’s just like looking through TV listings and somebody in the room comments “that’s crap”, very quickly a debate follows. Now if they’d just added the words “I feel” or “in my opinion” at the start of their sentence, it completely changes the tone and the meaning, and while you are actually still inviting other people to share their opinions, there isn’t that instantly confrontational element that so often results in an argument about who’s right and who’s wrong.
This also stands true when somebody is giving you their opinion as if it is fact. Instead of starting your retort with “you’re wrong…” or “are you stupid?” you should start with “I see it this way…” or “I feel differently because…”
This goes hand-in-hand with listening. You can check out my 13 Simple Listening Tips. Having the ability to listen and then answer appropriately with the correct pretext would stop so many situations being misinterpreted and eventually getting out of control.
Updated for 2023