If Your Attitude And Results Are Falling Behind, Learn To Lead With Your Mouth!
The following idea can significantly help individuals in business, at every level, and it can also provide a valuable and unique leadership tool for managers.
You may have noticed that people use one of three languages when talking to colleagues and customers: positive, negative and indifferent. Examples of the three ways of talking are as follows, in response to bad news:
POSITIVE: “Don’t worry, it will be OK; let’s collect our thoughts about this and meet tomorrow at 9am to determine the best way forward. I am sure we can turn this around.”
NEGATIVE: “Oh no, this is terrible. I had a feeling this was going to happen. We’re in big trouble now!”
INDIFFERENT: “Oh dear, that’s not good. I wonder what will happen next.”
Now, as a matter of interest, the positive person in this scenario does not know how to fix the problem, but he does SAY that the problem will be solved…and so by leading positively with his mouth, he then has no choice but to follow up with a positive mental attitude (feelings and thoughts) and then positive action (behaviour). The other two types of people use the same formula, but because they begin with a negative or neutral verbal commitment, their attitude and activity are programmed to ‘wait and see’, or in the case of the negative person…to ‘accept the bad news and to report on the problem, as it gets worse’!
This formula has created hordes of people in business with a ‘journalistic’ outlook, very few with an ‘author’ mentality, and a myriad of people who are just ‘readers’ of information served up by the other two groups…mostly featuring the journalists. Journalists ‘report’ on news and we all know that bad news attracts most interest, while authors are charged with a responsibility to create plots and plans that will produce ‘happy endings’.
I had a senior manager reporting to me once upon a time, and although she was technically accomplished she had a bad habit of reacting to problems in the worst possible way with her mouth, which always and instantly had the effect of making the problem far worse than it was to begin with. One day I took to her to one side and explained what she was doing to herself and to everyone she talked to, and I then asked her to ‘say the opposite’ to what she normally said…for just one day, and to see what happened to her thoughts and her actions. I should also add that we treated the challenge with some humour, but the point is that she did what I asked, and so for one day of her life she ‘said’ something positive every time she intercepted news that was bad or threatening. This experience literally changed her life, because she suddenly found that there was a different and better side of her ready to go…but only when called on to do so. That manager went on to become the most positive person in our team, and the greatest advocate and teacher of ‘leading positively with the mouth’.
None of this has anything to do with reducing the serious nature of problems and bad news; instead, it involves increasing the quality of our internal responses to difficult or terrible external circumstances. Everyone knows that if someone close to us gets bad news about health, work, etc., then our natural inclination is to reassure them that ‘it will be OK’, and then we are obligated to follow our words with carefully crafted thoughts and action. Just a few people in business have adopted the same immediate and positive reaction to problems with the economy, the competition, etc., and in doing so they put their best foot forward, but only after using their mouth first. People are not born positive, they grow positive.