040 – The Strange Double Negatives That Might be Tripping You Up

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Podcast

How you express yourself matters. What you say and what you don’t say are both important. In creating the life you love and in interacting with others, you must be thoughtful and deliberate in your communication.

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares how language can make a big difference in communication with others, setting goals, and even manifesting desires.



00:17 – The difference language makes
00:45 – If we fail to express, we don’t get anything we want
01:19 – Should you go into every conversation with an agenda?
02:54 – Investing in a music industry startup
04:20 – How your brain interprets language
05:21 – “All good” vs. “No problem”
06:17 – Developing good habits
07:07 – Communication is about what others hear
07:51 – What to do when you’re feeling horrible
09:32 – Pay attention to the double negatives


So, this one is going to be titled “The Strange Double Negatives That Might be Tripping You Up” or something along those lines.

And this is all about language. It may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, what I’m about to share with you, and yet, if we were to look at how everything is in language, everything is in communication, whatever we express is just as important as what we don’t express.

But if we don’t express anything, we don’t get anything we want. And that’s where sharing comes in. We must share our vision with others, not so that we sabotage ourselves or our goals, but more so that sharing creates momentum.

If we don't express anything, we don't get anything we want. Click To Tweet

You just never know when sharing your idea with someone might help you find an investor or a collaborator or someone who’s going to help and support you.

Now, do we go into conversations with an agenda all the time? My feeling is no. It sounds strange and I think there’s a time and place to go into a conversation prepared to request because so often we’re just scared of making requests, and if we realized the power that we had and the requests that people would agree to, or at least counter, we would make way more requests than we do.

What I do believe in is having an intention for every conversation. What is going to be talked about?

Have an intention for every conversation. Click To Tweet

Why would you go into a conversation with no intention? That is my question to you. Going into a conversation with no intention is for fun. That’s not going to move your career forward. That’s not going to move your business forward. And in fact, chances are it’s not going to move your relationships forward.

You might decide in the spur of the moment to go watch a movie or have a barbecue with friends. And obviously, that’s valuable time. But open-ended conversations about nothing with no intention tend not to move anywhere. They’re fine for entertainment, they’re fine for your spare time, they’re fine for relationship building with friends and people that you’re getting to know.

But they don’t work for business-oriented conversations, career-oriented conversations, or opportunity-oriented conversations, that’s where you want to bring intention to what you say, as well as what you don’t say.

Many years ago, I was invested in a music industry startup, and I was brought on as a part-time digital marketer to help spread the word about that company. I had a fair bit of success as far as blogging and social media were concerned.

It was kind of the earlier days of social media if you will, maybe not MySpace or Friendster. That was kind of going out of style, but Google+ was still around at the time. So, that might give you an idea.

I remember they brought on another guy… multiple contractors were brought on, but we started getting into calls and meetings and communicating with each other.

So, there was this one guy that they brought on as a contractor and we had conversations here and there because we were sort of in the same department. I can’t remember exactly what it is he brought to the table. It might’ve been customer service or some other form of marketing that I wasn’t doing.

But essentially it was, he heard me say the phrase “No problem.”

The funny thing about “no problem,” is if you stop and look at it, it’s a double negative. So, he pointed this out to me. And at the time I was like, “Dude, we’re kind of splitting hairs here, aren’t we? Like it’s a double negative. Doesn’t that make it a positive?”

That’s the way math is supposed to work, but in language, it doesn’t. And the reason for that is how our minds or brains interpret language. It doesn’t hear qualifiers.

This is the problem with most people’s goals, most people’s desires, why they don’t achieve them, and why they don’t get anywhere close to what it is they ultimately want to create. Usually, the problem is in the language. They put qualifiers in place. So, they say, “I want to be with someone who doesn’t smoke.”

No. You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t smoke doesn’t work because “doesn’t” can’t be heard by the mind or the brain. The qualifier can’t be heard. It gets ignored by your brain. So, you want to say, “Someone healthy.” That would help you move towards your desires.

And everything else is just habitual. At some point, I started to see the wisdom in what was being shared with me. And I realized that I could replace “No problem” with “All good.” There’s “good” in that sentence.

Looking at the language once again, if what you say and what you don’t say make up who you are, then it matters that I am saying continually, “All good” versus “No problem.”

Because if I say, “No problem” all the time, my mind’s just hearing “problem,” “problem,” “problem” versus me saying “All good” all the time. My brain is hearing “good,” “good,” “good.” Everything’s good. Things are going good. Things are progressing. Good.

I mean, that tends to be how I respond to people who are asking, how are you doing? “I’m always good.” That’s my go-to response now, but it’s habitual.

In other words, you’ve got to work on it if you’re used to saying “No problem” all the time. You can choose whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be “All good,” but you might have to train yourself. And it may take some time because you’ve been saying “No problem.” all this time to move over to something else like “awesome,” “excellent,” or “right.”

I mean, “awesome” is slang and I think it’s a word worth studying all its own. You might want to look up the definition and the etymology and what “awesome” means before we go throwing it around. But either way, moving towards something positive.

“All good,” “definitely,” “absolutely.” Those are good terms to use in the affirmative and that gives people more confidence.

Again, communication is not just what we think about, but what others hear. And so, when we generate something, we must generate it in a way that is also true to our way of being.

Communication is not just what we think about, but what others hear. Click To Tweet

So, you can’t say “All good” and if you sound like “All good,” [said in an unenthusiastic way] you sound either depressed or exasperated or like you don’t want to be in the conversation.

So, if you’re going to say, “All good,” say it with some enthusiasm. That will come across. So, it’s in the intention as well.

But you might be wondering, “What do you do then when you are feeling horrible and things are not going well?”

Don’t lie. The power of language is something that needs to be acknowledged here in this conversation because that’s what we’re talking about. But don’t lie. Don’t lie to yourself and others.

In other words, if you’re feeling terrible, you say, “I’m feeling terrible, but I’m working on it and I’m getting better.” Something along those lines. It sounds goofy, but you want to train yourself to say that.

Or something “bad” happens, quote-unquote, and you train yourself to the point where your response isn’t like, “Yeah, just bad. This bad thing happened.”

No, it’s like, “This bad thing happened and it’s going to be good. I don’t know how, but it’s going to be good.” That is an excellent trained response. It’s a way for you to stay out of emotional trauma or the emotional elements of going back and forth on, “This thing happened, and I feel terrible about it.”

No, acknowledge it. But also acknowledge that within every challenge or problem or issue, there is the seed of a breakthrough. But you’ve got to be willing to look for it and importantly, have conversations. Because speculating with others and brainstorming with others is sure to help you come up with solutions and different perspectives.

Within every challenge or problem or issue, there is the seed of a breakthrough. Click To Tweet

We all have different perspectives. I’ve talked about being in an echo chamber before. Well, we all benefit from different perspectives.

So, let’s start paying attention to the double negatives, right? What sort of negative goal-setting have we been doing that doesn’t help us get what we want?

Like, “I want to stop smoking.” Well, that one may work. What would probably work better though is if you said, “My new goal is to smoke one cigarette per day.” Like if you were smoking five per day, you say “My goal, stated in the positive, is to smoke one cigarette per day.” Your mind and your brain can interpret that. It makes sense. So, you’ve set a positive goal rather than a negative goal.

Especially watch out for the double negatives because the brain can’t interpret them in the way that you can. It does not hear the qualifier. It’s not going to hear “Not” “Don’t,” or “Isn’t.”

So, when creating goals, and when you’re “languaging” this stuff, in emails and communication in general, state them in the positive, and see how that makes a difference for you.