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Five Little Words That Make a Big Difference

Have you notices that the world is infested with negativity. Crabbing. Complaining. Grousing. Cynicism. Sour attitude. An ooze permeates our world. It's everywhere. You can speak optimism and favor to counter that ooze. You can be the remedy to this ill.

How? By speaking 5 words. With five little words, you have the power to transform negativity.

About 25 years ago, while working for NASA as a propulsion engineer (not unlike a rocket scientist, actually) I had a boss who was the ultimate glass-half-full person. He was the most positive, cheerful and upbeat guy I'd ever met. He was always complimenting his staff, finding the silver lining, and focusing on the good. At the time, we thought he was a little over the top, a bit too Polly-Ann-ish. Now, looking back, I realize how powerful and influential he was. His positive attitude often transformed our negative culture, and infused a much-needed spurt of benevolence into our sour world. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure that out? Apparently so.

I confess I struggle with being a negative person. I'm quick to find the flaw, error, or problem. I make myself crazy because I don't want to be negative. I'd much rather be positive because it's more fun, and the contrast to a negative world is often more welcomed. But it's a constant disciplined effort to choose to be positive. To be the “glass-half-full” person, instead of the “dirty-cup-half-empty-with-something-gross-at–the-bottom” person requires ongoing commitment.

One thing I've found to be really effective is to become more intentional with my words when I speak to others. I try to tune into their struggle, be aware of their fear, and explore their concerns. I want to speak directly to their heart in a way that lifts them up, regardless of circumstances. In fact, sometimes all it takes is just 5 words! Here's a list of 5 word phrases that can make a dramatic difference in your conversations. Use them, and you will drop a gift of positivity into a cesspool of negativity, and transform the mood - guaranteed. Try it.

5 words that can make a big difference:

You're right for this job.

I can depend on you.

You are special to me.

What would you rather do?

That is a great idea.

Thank you for doing that.

That must have been hard.

I can live with that.

Let us agree to disagree.

I was wrong. I'm sorry.

Let's try it your way.

How can I help you?

I am proud of you.

You are good at that.

I can see you're frustrated (or mad, scared, hurt, confused, or ...)

How can we work together?

It's okay. I don't mind.

Whichever you chose is okay.

Tell me more about that.

I'm here to help you.

See? It’s not hard to find 5 little words that make a big difference. What 5 words will you choose to say today?

Maureen Zappala, a former NASA propulsion engineer and founder of High Altitude Strategies, is an award winning speaker, author and presentation skills coach. She encourages high-performers who struggle with matching confidence to competence, teaching them to quiet their internal voice that says “I’m not as smart as everyone thinks I am!” She lives in Medina, Ohio and can be reached at or through her website

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