7 Ways to Develop an Optimistic Explanatory Style 

14 June 2023

Explanatory style refers to an individual’s habitual way of explaining or interpreting events that happen to them or around them. It involves the cognitive and emotional processes by which people make sense of and attribute causes to events in their lives. 

Improving your explanatory style can have a positive impact on your communication skills and overall mindset. Here are some strategies to enhance your explanatory style: 

  1. Challenge negative assumptions: When facing setbacks or failures, question your initial negative explanations. Look for alternative interpretations or consider external factors that may have contributed to the situation. Avoid making broad generalisations or assuming personal inadequacy. 
  1. Emphasize external, temporary, and specific causes: When explaining negative events, attribute them to factors that are external (outside of your control), temporary (not permanent), and specific (limited to a particular situation). This helps avoid a pervasive sense of personal fault and encourages a more constructive outlook. 
  1. Develop self-awareness: Pay attention to how you explain events and situations to yourself and others. Notice patterns of negative or self-blaming explanations, and consciously work to reframe them in a more positive and constructive light. 
  1. Seek alternative perspectives: Engage in conversations with others and actively listen to different viewpoints. This helps broaden your understanding of events and encourages more balanced explanations. Consider how others interpret situations and incorporate diverse perspectives into your own thinking. 
  1. Practice gratitude and appreciation: Cultivate a habit of focusing on the positive aspects of your life. Regularly express gratitude for the things you have and the positive experiences you encounter. This can shift your explanatory style towards more optimistic and appreciative narratives. 
  1. Build resilience: Develop strategies to cope with adversity and bounce back from setbacks. Learn from failures, view them as opportunities for growth, and maintain a resilient mindset. Recognize that setbacks are a natural part of life, and your explanatory style can influence how you interpret and respond to them. 
  1. Learn from positive experiences: When something goes well or you achieve a desired outcome, reflect on the factors that contributed to your success. Attribute positive events to internal strengths, specific actions, and repeatable behaviours. This helps reinforce positive explanatory patterns and enhances your confidence and motivation. 

Improving your explanatory style takes time. Be patient and ensure you make a conscious effort to adopt a more positive, constructive, and growth-oriented mindset.