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How to Dissuade Negative Behavior with Positive Phrases

how to influence behavior with words

When I was growing up I got a lot of criticism from people in my family. I know they were merely trying to influence my behavior and have me do what they thought was right for me, but the way they spoke to me made me do the opposite.

They are simply bad communicators.

They didn’t know about how powerful words are.

I didn’t consciously rebel against what they said, it’s just that the way they spoke to me solidified the very behavior they were trying to change.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve probably read about how powerful words are and how our subconscious mind absorbs words and commands and programs our mind. Words, thoughts and language shape and create our reality.

Since you know this, you are in a great spot because you have the ability to think more consciously and critically about yourself and your surroundings.

When you’re trying to influence someone, your words should always push someone in the direction you want them to go.

For example, consider if you told your child “stop eating candy because if you don’t you are going to get fat.”

This contains an embedded command “you are going to get fat.” This is entirely the opposite of what you want for your child, yet someone in this position is essentially commanding their child to get fat. If you say this repeatedly, it enforces the bad behavior and programs your child to become fat.

A sneaky trick salesmen use to influence a potential client is by saying something like “…you don’t have to buy today, however…”

Of course the salesman wants you to buy today. And, he’s commanding you to do so. The embedded command in that phrase is “buy today”, and it overshadows the rest of the sentence.

You can use this type of communication to change the previous command “you are going to get fat” into something more positive.

You could say “you should eat healthier so you become strong and healthy.” You can even say something like “If you keep eating junk food you won’t be a strong and healthy athlete.” Or even “stop eating candy because if you don’t stop you aren’t going to be strong and healthy.”

You can use any phrase in the place of “strong and healthy.” Just make sure you include a positive command and it coincides with your child’s goals.

When I was a kid I thought it would be cool to be an FBI agent. I’m not really sure that was even my idea. Talk about programming, I had a family member who thought very highly of FBI agents and frequently encouraged me to go that route.

However, one thing I heard a lot as a kid was “if you don’t do your homework you are going to go to community college.

I heard it a lot.

It was a direct result of my parents projecting their fear onto me. I went straight to university after highschool, however let’s think of some better ways my parents could have phrased that statement.

How about:

“If you don’t do your homework you will have trouble getting into a good school, and then you won’t be able to fulfill your dream of becoming an FBI agent.


“You should do your homework so you go to a great school and fulfill your dream of becoming an FBI agent.

This is much more effective and promotes and commands something positive in line with the target’s goals.

You can even leave in the negative consequence for people who are pain avoiders (most of us) and finish with the positive image you want to inspire.

See if you can utilize some of these techniques to shape and mold the behavior of your clients. These techniques are essentially NLP techniques which I’ll write a little bit more on in the future, so be sure to subscribe to my blog so you see all my new articles.

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