Sometimes, the most insignificant grouping of words can hold the most significant meaning.
Years ago when I was a manager at Macy’s Herald Square, I was faced each and every morning with a barrage of buyers and assistant buyers on my selling floor attacking the merchandise and addressing the needs of the day. I loved the team, but was lukewarm about their morning blitz, because it started my day with an unfair advantage (14 of them and 1 of me). Their offices were located right upstairs and as much as I knew they were there to help me as I single handedly endeavored to manage 14 men’s departments, it was a hard pill to swallow. I felt as if I were living in a fish bowl and under constant pressure to be and perform with perfection. My group manager, assessing the situation reminded me that their daily ritual was not about me, but about their understanding that my job was previously a two manager responsibility and that it was simply not possible for one person to handle the quantity of merchandise that was on the floor each day. To level the playing field she suggested that every time they descended on my selling floor, each one asking me to get something done for them right away, that I learn to utter 6 short letters. O.K. fine. Over two decades later, those words still have power and punch left in them.
O.K. fine means “I’ve got it,” it turns any request into a positive exchange. O.K. fine means I take you seriously, but I take myself seriously too. O.K. fine reduces the need to explain further, defuses negative energy and creates a “can do” aura. O.K. fine turns can’t into can and with it generates possibility.
Where else in our daily interactions are our words capable of shifting the mood of the moment? If we stop to investigate this further it appears that there are a variety of catch phrases, even single words that can completely change the tone of what we are saying or thinking and alter the perceptions and even the actions that occur afterwards. Below is a list of some of my favorites.
• “Yes, AND”, replacing “yes but” works very nicely in shifting energy away from an excuse mode that makes us choose one thing over another into a possibility mode that allows us to consider more than one thing with equal weight.
• “Say yes now and figure it out later.” This is one of my favorite mantras because it is an enabler. We spend so much time thinking that often we don’t spend time doing. When I repeat this phrase, it’s about the doing and it naturally shifts me into gear.
• “What can I do NOW, in the time I do have.” A few words that can take that 10 or 20 minutes of time we may have before we pick up our kids, and turn them into productive to-do time. We are all faced with gaps of time in-between other things we do, and it is very easy to mindlessly check Facebook or waste the time thinking it is not enough time to effectively get something accomplished. When we empower ourselves to own up to the moments we have, we automatically become more productive and accountable in those moments.
Our thoughts dictate our actions. Subtle shifts in how we say something, and favorite catch phrases that we return to go a long way in shifting our beliefs and our mindset. This in turn impacts our relationships to people, time and ultimately ourselves.