The fault’s not in your stars darling, it’s in your language.

If you’ve been banging your head against the wall trying to accomplish a goal or solve a problem, it may be time for you to stop blaming your bad luck or the stars and start paying attention to your language.

When I was living in London in 2007 I called my mom crying on a regular basis. Settling into a new city at such a young age, and I guess any age really, was tough. I had very little friends, I wasn’t passionate about my job and the relationship I was in wasn’t really going that well.

I would spend hours on the phone with my Mom where she would offer up all of her very best advice. At the end of every tip I’d counter her advice with the following sentence that literally was the death of me: “Yeah, but that’s not going to work cause the problem is….”

And there it was…my biggest problem staring me right in the face. Nobody, including me, was going to come up with any solutions because I kept repeating that one little detrimental phrase:

“The problem is”

The more I repeated it, the more problems showed up.There’s a lot of truth to Aristotle’s saying:
“We are what we repeatedly do” (or in this case say) Luckily I snapped out of that behavior a few years later when working with my life coach and becoming more self aware of the power of language and thoughts.

Recently I watching one of  Denise Duffield Thomas’ videos that inspired my new favorite mantra is:

When you change your language, you’ll change your thoughts. Change your thoughts and you’ll change your actions. And by changing your actions you’ll change results!


So how do you become more aware?

First, start by paying attention to what your first response is when people try to offer help or advice. Do you have a phrase that boils up instantly? If it’s something along the lines of: “the problem is” or “that’s not going to work, because..” try to refrain from saying it out loud. Take a deep breath and really listen to what the other person is saying, without offering your phrase.

Helping your team:If you’re noticing that this phrase or similar problem orientated language is prevalent in your team’s vocabulary, try playing a solutions game like this one:

At the next team meeting state a specific problem the team is facing and you’re struggling to solve. Encourage everyone to offer ideas to solve the problems as they think of them. Keep saying solutions without interruption or stopping to say “it’s not going to work because x,y,z”. Simply let your team brainstorm without worrying about the feasibility of their ideas. After everyone’s offered a solution or two, let the team decide what the best solutions were. This will help cultivate everyone’s listening skills and help everyone to go into a solution orientated mode vs only seeing problems.

Now I’d like to hear from you: In the comments below, tell me your “problem phrase” What has helped you to stop using those words?