The Language of Habit
Want to create a positive new habit? Consider the language you use. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research tested the words people use when confronting temptation. One group was instructed to use the words "I can't" while the other used "I don't" when considering unhealthy food choices (“I can’t eat sugar” vs. “I don’t eat sugar”). When the study finished, subjects were offered a chocolate bar or granola bar as thanks. While 39 percent of those who used the words "I can't" chose the granola, 64 percent of those in the "I don't" group picked it over chocolate.
The study authors believe that saying "I don't" rather than "I can't" provides greater "psychological empowerment." For example, by saying, “I don’t smoke,” we reinforce our commitment by making non-smoking part of our identity.
We believe this finding can be applied to communication habits as well. Consider the power of saying “I don’t interrupt” or “I don’t use silence as a weapon.” If you want to build a positive communication style, try identifying yourself as someone who “doesn’t” engage in unproductive communication.
We want to hear: Is there a habit you want to break? How does substituting “I don’t” for “I can’t” work for you? Join the conversation by clicking "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
5/26/2015 07:00:03 am
I wasn't concentrating on that in particular but have been doing it anyway. I got serious about being healthier and losing weight about 8 months ago and one of the first things I agreed on with my Wellness Coach was that I don't buy candy bars at the register when in a store and I haven't. So far with doing other things I have lost about 18 pounds. Yes I believe our "self talk" in this manner does matter.
5/26/2015 03:41:30 pm
So cool Joyce! We also have noticed the impact of "I don't " when we wan t to make a habit stick. Congratulations!
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