It’s no secret that language can be a powerful tool in many ways, but how often do you consider how language can change your outlook on life?
When it comes to separating optimists from pessimists, there are two words in particular that can be especially illuminating. And I’m prepared to bet you’ve said them to yourself or to clients in the past week.
They are: “What if…?”
Depending on how you use them, the words “what if” can change your outlook on a situation
“What if” is a powerful phrase no matter how it’s used.
For those more inclined towards a glass-half-empty mindset, it’s riddled with fear and anxiety. It might precede sentences like:
- “What if the train is delayed or cancelled and I miss the meeting?”
- “What if I fluff my words in the interview and don’t get the job?”
- “What if I fail the exam?”
But those who lean more towards the glass-half-full mindset can find the phrase liberating and exciting:
- “What if I try something new to see what happens?”
- “What if this turns out to be my best idea yet?”
- “What if we could exceed the target?”
As you can see, these two simple words could have vastly different effects on you depending on how you choose to frame the question.
Being an optimist could help you to live longer, but pessimism has a role to play in this too
The human brain is wired to look for negatives to keep ourselves safe. By asking “what if that noise was an intruder?” or “what if that storm heads this way?”, we can take the necessary actions to reduce risk and avoid potentially life-threatening situations.
So, there is certainly space for pessimism. Yet a number of scientific studies have found that an optimistic outlook can have beneficial effects on lots of different areas of your life.
For example, CNBC reports that optimists are more likely to live past the age of 90 than those who have a more pessimistic outlook. Meanwhile, Fast Company reports that optimists are more likely to perform well at work and experience job satisfaction.
It’s important to keep in mind that, in these studies, optimism isn’t defined as plastering on a smile and ignoring difficult issues. Rather, it’s about believing that good things are to come even if you’re experiencing challenges in the present. It’s also about taking positive, proactive steps to seize opportunities when they arise.
Using this powerful phrase in your marketing could be a game-changer
Including a healthy mix of positive and negative “what if” sentiment could help your marketing to build trust with your reader and demonstrate the value of different aspects of financial planning.
Let’s start with the negative connotations.
When you’re speaking to your clients, you might have used questions like these to talk about subjects like financial protection and estate planning:
- “What if you weren’t able to work for an extended period of time because of injury or illness?”
- “What if you were to pass away, how would your family cope financially?”
These are important questions to consider, helping your reader to understand the importance of protecting themselves against risk.
But there’s also something to be said for using “what if” to create optimism in your marketing.
- “What if you could retire sooner than you imagined?”
- “What if you could help your children or grandchildren onto the property ladder during your lifetime, rather than waiting to gift to them in your will?”
- “What if you could use your pension to support your business growth?”.
These sorts of questions can help your reader to look past their fears and imagine what might be possible with your help.
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