Positive, negative, positive communication

I was just speaking to one of the guys at Terem about the positive, negative, positive combo in communications. Or as an old footy coach used to call it, a shit sandwhich. A bit of bad stuff surrounded by two good things.

It is particularly effective when giving feedback, dealing with tough issues or even putting together a document with no difficulty surrounding it.

When delivering a difficult message I try to find something positive to start with. It has to be genuine as it is easy to pick up on someone taking this approach. Then I’ll state the negative thing that has to be said. Then finish off with something positive. Again, something genuinely positive.

You’d be surprised how many genuinely positive statements one can make. And you don’t have to be offering a box of chocolates or free money. You can often re-state positive things you’ve said previously to re-enforce them.

This approach can and should be applied to “normal” documents or discussions. For example, if you’re working through an agreement to do something for someone, place positive things first (e.g. things you will do for them), place the not so positive things for them (what they need to do for you in return) and then finish with something else you will do for them or some benefit that will go to both of you.

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Scott Middleton
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