Your writing will be more successful if you focus on positive wording and a positive tone rather than negative. Writing that affects your reader positively is more likely to produce the response you want. A positive emphasis persuades the reader and creates goodwill. In contrast, negative words may generate resistance.
· Avoid judgmental phrases such as “you claim,” “failed to, “neglected to,” and “lack of.”
· Avoid words with negative connotations, such as no, do not, refuse, and stop and words that convey unhappy or unpleasant associations, such as unfortunately, unable to, cannot, mistake, problem, error, damage, loss, and failure.
· In a few cases, you may want to use the negative for emphasis. There is a difference in tone between the contracted form and the two-word form--can’t and cannot or don't and do not.
Negative example: You are 2,000 points short of the requirement for an upgrade.
Positive example: Members need 50,000 points to qualify for an upgrade. Our records show that you have earned 48,000 and need an additional 2,000 points to qualify.
Finally, readers comprehend positive statements easier than negative ones. You will appear more confident and assertive by stating what something is and what you can do, rather than what something is not or what you cannot do.
Negative example: I cannot process your request without the proper form.
Positive example: I can process your request when I receive the proper form.
You will naturally write either positively or negatively. I tend to write negatively, so if you are like me, take a few minutes to change your negative statements to positive ones and improve your writing and the response you get.
Excerpt from my workshop Writing for the Workplace. Business Writing workshops