Don't Be So Negative
My wife and I are the proud parents of a three-year-old. While it hasn’t made for the easiest home life during the pandemic, it’s done wonders for my communication skills. One thing I learned very early on: think (and speak) positively. For example, let’s say it’s lunch time, but my son is having trouble focusing on his meal. After a couple of gentle reminders, I might try to get tough by saying something like this: If you don’t finish your food, you can’t go outside to play. Notice how the sentence is framed in the negative: if you don’t do X, you can’t do Y. It’s a natural way to communicate consequences. But that negative phrasing presents a couple of problems.
Joe Fore, Don't Be So Negative, 69 Virginia Lawyer 62 (February, 2021).