Beyond Optimism: The Art of Positive Communication
Under stress, we all have a hard time communicating positively. The frustration, the sadness, or the anger has to come out first, so to speak. But how do you deal with someone who is out of control for a moment and seemingly beyond reason?
A positive communication style has the effect of calming someone down, and the reason is simple. If we have to choose between something positive and something negative, we choose the positive by nature.
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What is the difference between a positive and optimistic communication style?
Positive communication is often confused with optimistic communication. Yet this is quite something else. Optimistic communication styles refute a negative scenario in someone’s mind by putting something positive in front of it. For example:
Someone express fear of becoming ill and someone with an optimistic communication style will argue that only a few percents of people become ill. So most people don’t get sick.
An optimistic communication style gives contrast with what someone thinks, and that can cause conflict. It is because the person with the negative scenario does not feel heard.
A positive communication style addresses the problem but in a solution-focused way. As a reaction to someone being afraid of becoming ill, the answer may be, for example, the question of how he can contribute in order not to become ill.
It acknowledges the problem that someone has come up with and offers a constructive solution.
What is the difference between positive and negative communication styles?
In a negative communication style, the problem of the other person is not recognized and is ridiculed. The person who is afraid of becoming ill will be told that this is a delusion (no acknowledgment) and that he should not behave like this (ridicule).
In most cases, this leads to even more fear and frustration and can even lead to quarrels. A quarrel can already arise if someone does not feel heard, and the chance is only increased if the person is also ridiculed.
What are examples of positive and negative communication styles?
Negative versus positive communication
- Calm down. > How can I help you?
- Stop crying > I see you’re sad and this is very hard for you
- You’re ok > Are you ok?
- Be quiet > Can you use a softer voice?
- Don’t hit > Please be gentle
- Stop yelling > Take a deep breath and tell me what happened
- Don’t get upset > It’s ok to be frustrated for a while
- That’s enough. > Do you want a hug?
- I’m all done > I’m here for you
Is positive communication always effective?
Positive communication is not always effective. People with a (temporary) mental disorder such as depression, overstrained people, or narcissists, can react unpredictably to any form of communication.
However, positive communication is more likely to have a positive and leveling effect. It is because we naturally opt for positivity, even if we have lost our minds for a moment. Especially on the work floor, a positive communication style can have a huge positive effect.
Why is it sometimes so difficult to communicate positively?
Someone frustrated can say things that – often unintentionally – hurt us. It takes a lot of empathy and resilience, not to take the words too personally at the moment this happens.
Besides, someone may be unreasonable or pessimistic out of anger, sadness, or anger. That, too, is difficult to see as something temporary.
Only when we learn that painful words and unreasonableness cause anger, sadness, or frustration can we continue to communicate positively. What can help here is to keep focusing on who the person is and not what they do or say. We all do or say something we didn’t really want to do. And in the end, we can always say sorry.