How expressing positive thinking efficiently may help shift outcomes Featured

Guest Columnist 12:09pm EDT August 13, 2013
David Harding, president and CEO, Harding/Poorman David Harding, president and CEO, Harding/Poorman

“Save your breath.”

My mother used to say this to me when I was desperately trying to explain my way out of a situation. In her view, the more I tried to explain, the more worked up I got, the less she was interested in my argument because she knew it was flimsy.

I believe the same philosophy holds true in business — and in relationships too, for that matter.

Maurice Saatchi, cofounder of the famed New York ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi used to say, “If you can’t reduce your argument to a few crisp words and phrases, there’s something wrong with your argument.”

My mother would have agreed with him.

Save time by honing your thoughts and streamlining your written words in all situations. Not only is this a worthy trait — but you will be heard. You’ll save time too. 

The power of “no”

Should you learn to say “No?”

“No” is so very easy to say. With that simple syllable, you can safely obstruct change, thwart action, seize power, and slow things down.

No isn’t rebellion. It’s a status quo power grab, and it comes from fear.

“Yes” is the real rebellion. It’s harder to say because it involves innovation, responsibility, creativity, achievement and thought. Yes is ingenuous, strident, candid, open.

Say yes as much as you can.

But the word “why” is always valid.

Asking why is always appropriate. And it isn’t asked enough.

Why gets to the heart of any decision you or your organization makes. It’s too easy to assume the answer. And too simple to believe that “because we’ve always done it that way” is the right reason this time around. It isn’t, because the game changes every day.

Ask why this is the way we operate. Ask why we need to meet. Why did you decide no? Why is this our goal, our forecast, our policy, our plan?

Always ask why and wait for the real, not the flip or the most convenient answer. Do it because the real answer matters.

Have the goal of fewer meetings

That means dealing with the fact that the modern office is an interruption factory.

In the age of centralized files and costly office equipment, it made sense for people to work and collaborate in centralized workplaces. Today, that logic no longer applies. We actually need fewer meetings and interruptions to get more work done. That means, more work done remotely.

According to The New York Times, for example, an average office demands 5.6 hours per week in meetings — of which 71 percent of us report as being unproductive. Why do this to ourselves?

The truth is, the most fundamental reason we have not shifted away from the office is because we are stuck on the appearance of an office culture.

Who do you spend your time with? Take a closer look at those who surround you, personally and professionally. Choose your peers, mentors, friends, and advocates carefully — especially in the workplace.

It really is all about your energy. Once energy is added to any situation, it has to continue. You learned this natural law in high school physics class. But this law is just as true in our dealings with others.

When you get cut off in traffic and get angry, negative energy increases. When you provide encouraging words to someone, positive energy expands.

Communicate negative energy and very likely, you will receive even more negativity back. Only rarely will negative energy be calmly acknowledged and the situation neutralized. (When this happens, aren’t you impressed — and feel calmer yourself?)

Being aware of the energy you express. Add to the positive. Work to diffuse the negative without escalating.

Your energy can dramatically shift the outcome of your communications. 

David Harding is president and CEO of HardingPoorman Group, a locally owned and operated graphic communications firm in Indianapolis consisting of several integrated companies all under one roof. The company has been voted as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Indiana by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Harding can be reached at dharding@hardingpoorman.com. For more information, go to www.hardingpoorman.com