How to use words to motivate people in difficult times

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The power of words

Can a word change someone's mood?
Can an encouraging speech help someone get over depression?

During a brain imaging study it was found that a single word that is said, heard or even read can dramatically affect the way the brain functions. (see The power of words)

Words that were charged with negative emotions were found to disturb the chemical processes of the brain for few moments.

Positive words on the other hand were found to have the opposite effect. Now the question is, why do sometimes positive words never have an effect on a depressed person or those going through difficult times?

Why do sometimes the same words that motivated a person never works for you?
Is there some kind of a secret behind the mysterious effect of certain words?
Yes there is.

How to use words to motivate people in difficult times

Your mind cannot accept any external input coming from the external world unless it matches its own beliefs. In one of my previous articles i even explained how people distort the inputs they receive just to hold onto their beliefs.

So what does this has to do with motivating people using words?
In fact, unless your words are perfectly aligned with that person's beliefs he wont find them motivating and they wont affect him.

Ever tried to calm yourself down while you were worried by telling yourself that you shouldn't worry or that nothing bad will happen?
Did that ever work?

Of course it didn't because deep inside you there was that belief that says that you are in danger.

Most of the reassuring words and the encouraging statements people use never work simply because they never match the belief system of the receiver.

In other words, you can't motivate a person in a difficult time unless you get to know more about his beliefs.

How to make people feel better using words

Lets suppose that a very intelligent teen got bad grades in one of his important exams. In such a case telling him that he shouldn't feel sad or that nothing is worth feeling sad for will never work but if you told him something like "You are a brilliant person and you will be able to do better next time" then it might work.

This statement wont just motivate him but it might remove his bad mood as well. Now if that same teen didn't believe that he is intelligent then this same statement can make his bad mood worse.

So to sum up everything in few lines, here is how to change people's moods using words:

  • 1) Understand the belief system of the person: Talk to that person for a short while to get to know his beliefs about himself, life and the problem he is facing
  • 2) Use motivating words that match his belief system: Unless your words are perfectly alined with that person's beliefs they wont motivate him during a difficult time. That's the reason why most affirmations never work
  • 3) Use his beliefs to motivate him: If that person believes in God then reminding him of God's help will motivate him or if that person believes in himself then reminding him of his earlier achievements will motivate him. Just find whatever that person believes in then use it to motivate him

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