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This story appears in the January 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Don't Do It

I enjoyed Barry Farber's piece on the mental edge for connecting with customers-current or prospective ("Sales Success," October). As a psychologist who has put psychology to work on the competitive fields of sports and business and taught at Dartmouth Medical School for over a decade, I would add one additional tip: Don't use don't!

Don't think about what time it is. Did you see a watch or a clock-digital or analog? The human mind is visual. Neuropsych journeys into its deep corners suggest we may not even process the word don't. Instead, we picture the words that follow its command. Don't look back-look ahead. The next time you hear your own inner voice admonishing you with the "don't" command, turn it around. Tell yourself what to do. The results will surprise you.

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