The Neuroscience Behind Our Words

OpinionPosted | Category: BRM Capability, Business Relationship Management Research, Professional Development | Contributed

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

This phrase is reminiscent of childhood recess when we didn’t want others to know how hurtful their words truly were. However, the belief that physical injury is more painful than psychological or emotional injury is not necessarily true.

Scientific studies actually show that positive and negative words not only affect us on a deep psychological level, but they have a significant impact on the outcome of our lives.

Words Can Hurt Me

In their neuroscience experiment, “Do Words Hurt?”, Maria Richter and collaborating scientists monitored subjects’ brain responses to auditory and imagined negative words. During this process, they discovered painful or negative words increase Implicit Processing (IMP) within the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sACC).

Put frankly, their study proved that negative words release stress and anxiety-inducing hormones in subjects.

Additionally, a study found increased levels of anxiety in children associated with higher rates of negative self-talk. According to the study’s abstract,

“These results suggest negative self-talk plays a role in the generation or maintenance of anxiety in normal children.”

Ultimately, negative words, whether spoken, heard, or thought, not only cause situational stress, but also contribute to long-term anxiety.

Think Happy Thoughts

 Naturally, the recognition that holding negative thoughts in our mind is enough to induce stress and anxiety hormones begs the question, “What effect do positive thoughts have?”

In their jointly written book, Words Can Change Your Brain, Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University, and Mark Robert Waldman, a communications expert state, “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”

Furthermore, according to these two experts in their field, exercising positive thoughts can quite literally change one’s reality.

“By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action. And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain.”

~Newburg, Waldman

Over time, given sustained positive though, functions in the parietal lobe start to change. Consequently, this changes our perception of the self and those around us. Essentially, holding a positive view of ourselves helps train our brain to see the good in others. 

Thus, by exercising consistent positive thoughts and speech, we not only change our self-perception, but how we perceive the world around us. Ultimately, this grants us the ability the shape our reality and change the world for the better.

BRMs: Using Positive Language to Drive Value

Evidently, as humans, our thought patterns directly shape our perception of the world and those around us. Our thoughts become our words, and therefore our language.

This holds true for humans individually, as well as organizationally. A strong company culture is one derived from a shared positive language based on organizational core values.

As BRMs, we know that relationships lie at the core of our role, and that language shapes our human interactions. So, how can we make a shift in the language we use in our daily work lives to reduce the negative associations with traditional “corporate lingo”?

In his article, “Language Matters”, Aaron Barnes, CEO of BRM Institute, dives deeply into the importance of positive language in elevating your business communications to drive value.

Take a look at a few examples of how you can shift towards positive language. As you do, really think about how each of these words or phrases make you feel, remember, or associate. 

BRM Positive Language Shifts
  • Capability instead of Process
  • Convergence instead of Alignment
  • Shared Ownership instead of Accountability
  • Demand Shaping instead of Demand Management
  • Business Capabilities instead of Services

Making these small changes in the words we use to express ideas creates a culture that doesn’t single out or place blame on any department or individual within the organization. Rather, it aims to promote transparency, elevate communications, and appreciate individual value.

In the end, shared positive language will promote effective communication and collaboration; breeding innovation, success, and organizational value.

“Language Matters” contains a comprehensive list of all the positive language shifts you can implement to drive effective communication across your enterprise.

For access to the full article, and to exclusive BRM-related knowledge and resources, join the BRM Community today!

98 Responses

  1. […] BRM Institute reports that positive and negative words have the power to affect us on a deep psychological level […]

  2. […] effect, so it’s important to be mindful of the language you use. The science behind the power of words explains how each and every word we speak creates sound waves and transmits messages into the […]

  3. […] the “language of grace,” which means that our language and word choice is always affirming. Studies have shown how positive language supports psychology and more successful outcomes. By investing in tools that affirm your staff’s gifts and build positivity, you can help nurture […]

  4. […] profound effect, so it’s important to be mindful of the language you use. The science behind the power of words explains how each and every word we speak creates sound waves and transmits messages into the […]

  5. […] scientifically proven that positive language has a strong impact on how other people perceive […]

  6. […] have found that using positive words such as “love” and “gratitude” can change a function of the parietal lo… in the brain. This function is about how we view ourselves and […]

  7. […] the “language of grace,” which means that our language and word choice is always affirming. Studies have shown how positive language supports psychology and more successful outcomes. By investing in tools that affirm your staff’s gifts and build positivity, you can help nurture […]

  8. […] If you look in the mirror and comment on the reflection as ‘fat, ugly, short, too tall, stupid’ how do you think you will feel? Crappy.  Look at the lovely reflection and see the beauty, say positive words like ‘smart, talented, pretty….’  The feelings are going to be much better. From the article The Neuroscience Behind our Words […]

  9. […] case you did not know, Scientific studies reveal that positive and negative words not only affect us on a deep psychological level, […]

  10. […] kinds of words directly affects the part of the brain that processes pain. In an article from the Business Relationship Management Institute, they reference a neuroscience experiment that indicates “ultimately, negative words, whether […]

  11. […] profound effect, so it’s important to be mindful of the language you use. The science behind the power of words explains how each and every word we speak creates sound waves and transmits messages into the […]

  12. […] positive and negative language use has a sub-conscious effect on our behaviour, it can also affect outcomes. Be positive and stay […]

  13. […] turns our words also have staying power. Scientific studies show that positive and negative words not only affect us on a deep psychological level, but they […]

  14. […] turns our words also have staying power. Scientific studies show that positive and negative words not only affect us on a deep psychological level, but they […]

  15. […] turns our words also have staying power. Scientific studies show that positive and negative words not only affect us on a deep psychological level, but they […]

  16. […] turns our words also have staying power. Scientific studies show that positive and negative words not only affect us on a deep psychological level, but they […]

  17. […] This all maybe sounds a bit ridiculous, but there’s actually some science to back this concept up. Here is an excerpt from an article titled “The Neuroscience Behind Our Words”  […]

  18. […] grief, inspiration when we long to be better, and show love to those around us.  According to some studies, words can change the outcome of our entire lives. For isolated and lonely older adults, that […]

  19. […] By being aware of our language we cannot just have a positive impact on the outside world. It also affects our inside world, meaning our body and mind. A study shows that negative words, whether heard, thought or spoken can cause stress and anxiety. The good thing is that positive words have at least as much influence as negative ones. So, the exercise of positive thoughts can really change people’s reality. By doing this consequently, certain parts of the brain are trained. That effect changes our perception of the self and the world around us. Accordingly, at least as much as negative words can hurt and cause damage, positive words can have a great impact on our lives and the world. In a business context, there are some specific terms that can be shifted towards positive language. For example, use ‘capability’ instead of ‘process’ or replace ‘accountability’ with ‘shared ownership’. [4] […]

  20. […] Not fairly, however there’s truth in it. If you wish to be a extra positive particular person, it’s a must to begin by speaking like one. Here is why, in line with neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  21. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  22. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  23. […] Not quite, but there is truth inside. If you want to be more positive person, you must start by speaking as such. Here is why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communication expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  24. […] Not fairly, however there are fact in that. If you wish to be yet another constructive particular person, it’s important to begin by talking as such. This is why, in accordance with neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications knowledgeable Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  25. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  26. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  27. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  28. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  29. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  30. […] No del todo, pero hay verdad dentro. Si quieres ser mas positivo Persona, tienes que empezar hablando como tal. He aquí por qué tan fuerte El neurocientífico Dr. Andrew Newberg y el experto en comunicaciones Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  31. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  32. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  33. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  34. […] Not quite, but there’s truth in it. If you want to be a more positive person, you have to start by talking like one. Here’s why, according to neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman: […]

  35. […] Исследования показали, что у детей повышенная тревожность вызвана частыми негативными высказываниями или самобичеванием. […]

  36. […] turns our words also have staying power. Scientific studies show that positive and negative words not only affect us on a deep psychological level, but […]

  37. […] single word has the power to stimulate the brain both positively and negatively – and change how people view the world around them. […]

  38. […] affects how we feel. In the Neuroscience behind our words states, Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University, and […]

  39. […] Research has shown that the words and phrases you consistently use when interacting with those whom you are closest—your teammates—influences how you are perceived and how you perceive the world around you. […]

  40. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  41. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  42. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  43. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  44. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  45. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  46. […] from an entire nation that your campaign is winnable. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  47. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  48. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  49. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  50. […] may be scientific proof to again this up. Neuroscientific analysis has proven a single phrase has the facility to control bodily and emotional responses. Optimistic […]

  51. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  52. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  53. […] an entire nation that your campaign is winnable. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  54. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  55. […] is scientific evidence to support this. neuroscientific research have shown that a word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  56. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  57. […] an entire nation that your campaign is winnable. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  58. […] an entire nation that your campaign is winnable. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  59. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  60. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  61. […] is scientific proof to again this up. Neuroscientific research has proven a single phrase has the ability to manage bodily and emotional responses. Positive ideas […]

  62. […] an entire nation that your campaign is winnable. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  63. […] करने के लिए वैज्ञानिक प्रमाण हैं। तंत्रिका वैज्ञानिक अनुसंधान दर्शाता है कि एक शब्द में शारीरिक और […]

  64. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  65. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  66. […] करने के लिए वैज्ञानिक प्रमाण हैं। तंत्रिका वैज्ञानिक अनुसंधान ने दिखाया है कि एक शब्द में शारीरिक और […]

  67. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  68. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  69. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  70. […] is scientific proof to again this up. Neuroscientific analysis has proven a single phrase has the facility to control bodily and emotional responses. Positive […]

  71. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  72. […] is scientific evidence to support this. neuroscientific research have shown that a word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  73. […] an entire nation that your campaign is winnable. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  74. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  75. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  76. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  77. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  78. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  79. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  80. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  81. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  82. […] أدلة علمية لدعم هذا. بحوث علم الأعصاب أظهر أن كلمة واحدة لديها القدرة على تنظيم الاستجابات […]

  83. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  84. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  85. […] may be medical proof to again this up. Neuroscientific research has proven a unmarried phrase has the facility to keep an eye on bodily and emotional responses. […]

  86. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  87. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  88. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  89. […] is scientific evidence to back this up. Neuroscientific research has shown a single word has the power to regulate physical and emotional responses. Positive […]

  90. […] são expressas em palavras, e as palavras e os símbolos têm o poder desde que o mundo é mundo. Intelectualmente […]

  91. […] توماس جيفرسون، ومارك روبرت والدمان خبير التواصل في كتابهما: “إن لكلمةٍ واحدةٍ المقدرة على التأثير في الجينات […]

  92. […] são expressas em palavras, e as palavras e os símbolos têm o poder desde que o mundo é mundo. Intelectualmente […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your peers!