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This post is is a much more Insightful blog (part II) than the original post on positive versus negative communications delivery, and here comes the dreaded …BUT:
From my perspective, I see 2 separate areas of discussions eventhough both viewpoints are related within the context of this fine blog: (1) Title of the blog : “It was great ..But!” and (2) Online persona vs real life persona
(1) Title of the blog: “It was great ..But!”
I agree with you that although the communication was initiated by a positive statement, this is bluntly a negative statement. I would equate it to a delivery of fine roses actually laced with arsenic. Okay may not be so poisonous but I hope the readers get my point. A negative statement disguised as a positive statement.
I do not adhere to the opinion that this type of comment is caused by a possible indecisiveness. I believe it goes deeper than that. In my humble opinion and only qualifying from my observations and experiences, I sincerely think it relates to human conditioning based on our personal background and conditioning – nature and nurture – with the main operative word to focus on the word “conditioning”.
Based on studies made (by Jack Canfield, self-esteem expert) that it takes 5 positive statements to counter 1 negative statement. An average child hears 432 negative statements per day but only 32 positive statements per day. Research shows further that 80% of people are hurt by words and only about 20% of children and adults are able to handle put-downs without emotional pain or psychological damage (data from California Task Force for Personal and Social Responsibility).
As a result, in my humble opinion, we are “conditioned” since childhood to communicate as much as possible with some polite “semblance” of “positive” delivery when communicating.
Ironically, even with our years of conditioning, our inbuilt human alarms allow us to pick up this negative comment through body language and non verbal cues. And contrary to what societal conditioning originally intended, one automatically reacts, consciously or subconsciously, by immediately raising our guard and being on the defensive, waiting for the predictable BUT followed by the critical negative statements afterwards.
So how do we counter measure this negative statement and find a mutually beneficial way for positive communication flow? From my experience, I suggest to paraphrase a persons or client’s statement back to him/her via a positive reply through the exchange of words of “BUT”, “HOWEVER” or “YET” with the words “AND” & “WITH”.
For example, the following statement is a negative comment if this was said by a client, “I think your presentation was great, BUT I don’t like the look of this logo.”
Replacing the word “but” with “and” changes the whole tone of the sentence. Then paraphrase the sentence back to a client in this manner “To reconfirm for my own understanding, the presentation design is great so far “AND” you’d like me to review the logo further to your requirements?”
Hopefully it will have a domino effect and people will, subconsciously or consciously, reciprocate in a positive manner too. If not, at the very least, with practice and time, you will have reconditioned your own communication delivery and reciprocations to negative statements which in itself represents a major competitive advantage for you in the art of successful communication over your professional peers.
(2) Online persona vs real life persona
This is very easy and short for me to answer. In trying hard not to judge other people for whatever reasons they come online and how they choose to behave online, I think the answer to your question varies very much on an individual case by case basis, by the person giving the opinion and the person being observed on his/her online persona.
As for my own stance, I say and behave online very similarly to how I express myself and act offline. I have no issue to speak out on my opinions offline or online, however potentially controversial it may be. I’ve been lucky to learn over a period of time through my own personal and professional growth how to convey feedback in a more positive light using very little or no negative statements.
In that vain, it is only natural that I will gravitate and find people online who I intuitively observe and eventually hope to be similar offline in their behaviours, mannerisms, ability to voice their opinions and receive feedback.