In global business communication, bad news is unavoidable. Events such as weather-related phenomena, plant shutdowns, worker strikes, political upheavals, material shortages, price increases and product recalls are realities that must be addressed through bad news or negative messages. In some messages, such as worker evaluations, the sole intention might be to cite clear examples of problems. However, in this situation the writer must take special care to avoid abusive and defamatory language that personally attacks the subject’s honor and integrity.
While communicating bad news is often necessary, research studies indicate that people respond more favorably to good news messages than to bad. To take advantage of this fact, writers should look at the world optimistically and put a positive spin on messages and situations, even when the news is bad. This practice is referred to as positive emphasis. Positive emphasis can be embedded into communication through the words, layout, imagery and organization of your communication.
Caution should be taken when communicating good news and bad news to foreign audiences. As a result, it’s a good idea to consult with a translations company like 24 Hour Translation when communicating good news and bad news. Professional translation companies are knowledgeable about how to appropriately present good news and bad news to culturally diverse audiences.
How to Put Positive Emphasis in Your Communication
These are a few techniques you can use to put positive emphasis into your communication.
1. Eliminate words that create an undesirable ambience or imply negativity.
2. Tailor your message to what your audience can do instead of pointing out failures, impossibilities and unreasonable responses.
3. Place negative information in the middle of your presentation or paragraph, where it won’t become a focal point.
4. Draw little attention to negative information by presenting it neatly and efficiently; then move on.
When to Avoid Positive Emphasis
While positive emphasis is recommended for most business messages, certain messages demand a level of frankness and compactness that is appropriate and realistic. Bad news such as layoffs, shutdowns, and bankruptcies require succinct acknowledgment, convincing language, serious treatment and honesty. No opportunities for misinterpretations must be allowed. Trying to add a positive spin to a message concerning salary cuts or the loss of life would seem insincere or unrealistic.
Business communicators should also avoid overdoing positive messages. In some instances, placing too much emphasis on a positive event can seem insincere and dishonest. Consider a sneaky car salesman who butters up his customers by gushing with praise about you and the products he sells. By exaggerating the positive, these salespeople come across as deceitful and dishonest. Remember it’s always better to be realistic and honest first—and then positive.