This is going to be a very brief post. There’s a reason why communication belongs to the category of so-called “soft” skills. And that reason is: it’s not (usually) supposed to be harsh. Barking at folks will not get you very far, unless you’re into making enemies or turning friends away. And my guess is, in the medium and long term, you want neither.
So, how about more “softness” in communication? Try to acknowledge the positives before blurting out scathing criticism. Pack it in something palatable and show some empathy. The British “sandwich” model of politeness (open and end on a positive note) comes to mind. This is particularly true for my friends and readers in Romania, where negativity seems to have taken hold – so much so, in fact, that there’s an apt (and funny) diagram on the Internet to exemplify it:
Source: Costache, O. on Medium.com blog, https://medium.com/octavians-thoughts/what-does-its-a-good-start-really-mean-ff8c1a2495c4#.n9aij5qp2
Whatever happened to that old Romanian saying, “Vorba dulce mult aduce” (which roughly translates to: Sweet talking will carry you a long way – or, more literally, Sweet words bring a lot of things your way)?
I was reminded of this today when, after posting what was (I thought) a very personal and heartfelt piece in an online flash fiction group, one of the administrators decided to reprimand me in a very brusque manner for violating a very minor punctuation rule (apparently, exclamation and quotation marks were off limits!).
Especially when you don’t know the person you’re addressing, and they can’t hear your tone of voice, it’s always a good idea to double-check your approach and take the time to acknowledge the person’s effort and participation before biting their head off with: “No, this is no good at all! Read the rules!” Politeness never hurt anyone.
Plus, excuse the pun, starting your sentences with ‘No’ is a big negotiation no-no… 😉
PS. (later edit) In the spirit of full disclosure, the person has now apologized profusely and most politely, and the whole misunderstanding was caused (as is all too often the case) by multi-tasking under enormous time pressure.