ProfessorHugh Mac Donald
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Module 7: Communicating with Positive Emphasis
•Positive emphasis is a persuasive way of presenting, or framing a situation
What’s the point of Positive Emphasis?
•Part of creating goodwill, successful communication
•Positive work environment essential to recruit, retain, motivate employees
What should I do if my message is Bad News?
•Deliver the news responsibly: be clear and sensitive
•Straightforward negatives build credibility, help people take problem
How do I create Positive Emphasis?
•Deemphasize or omit negative words and information
1. Avoid negative words and words with negative connotations
-Hidden negatives: words that are not negative in themselves but
become negative in context ex: but and however are negative after a
2. Focus on what the reader can do rather than on limitations
- Eliminate double negatives
- When there are limits, or some options are closed, focus on reminaing
- If reader must meet a requirement to obtain a benefit, put benefit first
3. Justify negative information by giving a reason or linking it to a reader
4. Omit the negative if it is unimportant
- If reader doesn’t need info to make a decision
- If info has been previously provided, and reader has access to it
- If info is trivial
5. Bury the negative information and present it compactly
- To deemphasize a negative, put it in the middle of a paragraph rather
that in the first or last sentence (or middle of message rather than in
first or last paragraphs)
- If message is several pages long, bottom of the first page is also in
position of emphasis
- Deemphasize negative info by giving it very little space – mention only
once in message
- Don’t list negatives vertically on page – take space and emphasize
Why do I need to think about Tone, Politeness, and Power?
•So as not to offend people by mistake
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