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This 45-Year-Old Recommendation Could Improve Your Outlook on Business

By changing the way you speak, you can change the way you think.

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Forty five years ago, the linguist David Bourland published a controversial paper suggesting we do away with the verb “to be” and all its associated forms (is, are, am, were, etc.). Under this syntactic regime, you wouldn’t be able to construct sentences such as “My customers are stupid,” “My installers are lazy,” or “I am a failure.” Bourland argued that such phrasing implies certainty and objectivity, when in reality, it expresses nothing more than an opinion. Restating it in what he called E-Prime – “I feel like a failure” or “I have failed at this task” or “I think my installers are lazy” – makes such thoughts feel limited, temporary, and addressable. Try it for a day or even just for the duration of your morning meeting. You may find it changes the way you view certain situations, or you’re just pleasantly liberated from the power of language over your thoughts and emotions.

Big Picture magazine has been serving wide-format printing professionals for more than 25 years, providing business-specific content to help boost bottom lines through its industry-leading magazine, website, email bulletins, Brain Squad and social media channels.

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