The power of positive writing

Something strange has happened to me.

After a month of working in the States, that uniquely American brand of optimism seems to have rubbed off on me. Maybe it’s because, for much of that time, I was in California, where they take positive thinking to a whole new level of ‘awesome’. Whatever the reason, I’m seeing the effects not only on my general state of mind, but also in my writing.

After 14 years in London, I hadn’t realised I’d ‘gone native’. But it turns out the British way of thinking has been chipping away at my sunny South African disposition all this time. The self-deprecation. The faux-modesty. The verbose politeness. The use of negatives to make a positive (‘I don’t suppose you’d be so kind as to...’). And where else in the world is the word ‘awfully’ used to describe a positive?

In the US, it makes us sound like naysayers, party poopers and gloommongers. And that’s just not the American way.

So we’ve worked that American optimism into the brand language we’ve developed for a Silicon Valley client. Focus on the positive. The possibilities. The benefits, not the features.

When it came to introducing the new brand language, we practised what we preached. Instead of the usual ‘Our language was confusing and formal and full of jargon’ that you see in most guidelines, we flipped it round and switched to the benefits of speaking in a more natural and distinctive way.

It’s an interesting habit to get into, especially in things like case studies and proposals where the standard format is problem first, then the solution and then the results.

Next time you find yourself writing one of those, try starting on an optimistic note.

You’ll find the result is positively awesome.

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