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Negative Communications: The Process of Absorption and Transmission

To truly comprehend the impact of negative communications on the recipients(s), one must understand how such negative input is received and processed by those exposed to it directly as well as how such information can be transmitted unintentionally and the harmful effects of that.

The way individual’s process negative information when it is received not only has to do with their own frame of reference, base of knowledge and pre-dispositions but also with basic human nature. For instance:

  • People will generally believe something to be true if it is seems plausible and there is no other counterbalancing input that refutes or challenges that information. Also, often, even if a dissenting view to negative information is received, there could be an element of doubt if the person has accepted the negative view and the new information will be filtered through the initial negative input. Therefore, there may not be a “clean slate” for reconsideration.

  • In a situation where someone is making a choice (e.g. selecting something) if there is both equally positive and negative input on a particular option, many will take the conservative approach (e.g. not take a chance) and go with another choice which has no hint of negativity attached to it.

Negative information can be disseminated in two ways: (1) the sender targets it to specific people or outlets that are targeted specifically; and (2) the sender uses a “shotgun” approach and disseminates it for mass distribution and all to see. In the first case, the sender may wish to confine the information but that is not always possible as

the recipient(s) may choose to pass it on with or without permission and when that happens, not only can the distribution be controlled but the content and context of the information can change due to personal interpretation of those who transmit it. Add to this is the distribution channels can vary from a very select one-to-one passing of the information to another or it getting placed on the internet for worldwide visibility.

Unfortunately, there is no “magic bullet” to combat, minimize or eliminate negative communications (think “Humpty Dumpty” and the genie out of the bottle) but it is important to be aware and informed of what transpires in the aftermath.

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