The sad truth about gossiping
You have seen this happen time and time again when you have worked in any large organisation. A new recruit starts work, and they appear to be fresh, unique and full of enthusiasm, yet some 30 to 40 days later they begin to sound just like everybody else on the team. They then start acting like everyone on the team.
What causes this to happen? Do you suspect it could be the language they are using?
Building your world though language
I have mentioned before in my articles that language is powerful as it actually shapes you world-view. When you use the same words over and over again, they become your map of that world which you operate from. So why does talking about other people have such an effect on our own behaviour? Lets explore this idea.
When you talk about other people your unconscious mind makes no distinction that you are talking about someone else, it thinks you are talking about yourself.
It does not matter if you say something negative or derogatory about them just once or twice, it is when you repeat the same thing about someone else over a period of time. 30 – 40 days seems to be a tipping point that begins to affect your own behaviour.
The chain of events goes like this. Words trigger images in the mind, use the same words again and the image becomes stronger. Your unconscious has been designed to follow the strongest image in the mind and consequently your behaviour changes. How do we test this idea?
I think you are interesting and funny
You have now been told not to talk about someone unless you have something nice to say and this is true for your own health. Do the following experiment for the next 30 days: only say positive things about others and notice how your mood will improve and how your outlook on life becomes more positive. Instead of putting people down, tell them that you find them interesting and funny.
Isn’t this just positive thinking in a different hat?
At one level it is. The danger of positive thinking is that sometimes people can go over the top and end up using empty words, such as “these eggs are AWESOME”. If you excessively refer to everything as being awesome, then in effect everything is average. The brain therefore takes awesome to mean average.
So what I am demonstrating here is that the words we use can trigger corresponding images in our minds. Therefore, you can use this technique to your advantage – what positive image do you want to have in your mind about yourself?
This is a prime time to learn something new
In Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink he talks about an experiment devised by a clever psychologist called John Bargh. You’re asked to imagine that he is a professor, and he invites you to come and see him in his office. You walk down a long corridor, come through a doorway and sit down at a table. On the table is a paper that lists some word sets, and you are challenged to do a scrambled sentence test, i.e. to quickly make short grammatical sentences using those word sets. The word sets have a number of deliberately scattered words within them that will affect your behaviour on leaving the office – to such an extent that the walk back out of the office will be much more slowly than before.
The word sets include the words “worried”, “old”, “lonely”, “gray”, “bingo” and “wrinkle”. This wasn’t a language test, but instead this was to make your adaptive unconscious think about the state of being old. It didn’t inform the rest of your brain about this sudden obsession and took all the references to old age so seriously that you start to act old and can only walk slowly. This was in effect one of Bargh’s priming experiments as tested with students.
You can now see from this scenario that some randomly scattered words on a page can trigger a powerful short term change. So can you begin to imagine now, just what would happen if some positively selected words were coming from inside your own head – words that you hear yourself saying over and over again many times?
Therefore, in conclusion, it’s not just what you say to yourself, it’s what you also say about other people that will affect your own world-view. Find positive things to say about other people and you will notice that your life gets better!
Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM (International Business Machines) made his staff sing two songs every morning. One was the national anthem and the other was known as the IBM song. You may not be able to get the people you work with to sing a song, but you just maybe able to get them doing star jumps first thing in the morning by regularly shouting “This is a great company”, “We love work”, “WE TURN UP ON TIME READY TO WORK”.
Do regularly use positive priming language and let me know how this has changed both you and your company for the better.
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Article written by John Cassidy-Rice