Top 8 Negative Communication Traits

Everyone is in sales all the time everywhere.

We try to persuade our family to go to the store, or on vacation. 
We try to persuade our bosses to give us a raise, or more control in our division.
We try to convince others to buy whatever it is that we are selling as part of our jobs, or our volunteer work.
However,  here at HSCT in our role as peacemakers, we are constantly reminded that it’s not what we say, but how we say it, that is important. 
There are ways to drive these people apart
What we say may lead to escalation. 
How we say what we say, will definitely lead to escalation: Particularly that escalation from merely a difficult situation or conversation to an all-out conflict that may emotionally ignite and reignite for years.
What are the top eight ways to communicate with other people that will guarantee you a negative relationship?

  • Passive-Aggressiveness: This is the classic “I don’t have a problem. Them folks over there have a problem.” If you don’t think that you are the problem, it’s time to get self-aware about…well…yourself.
  • Put-Downs: “Of course Sheila causes the problem, she’s never not been an idiot in this organization.” Or, “When was the last time Bill actually contributed anything of value?” Cue everybody laughing. Cue a difficult conversation upcoming with Bill or Sheila.
  • Scapegoating: “I didn’t have anything to do with the failure of this idea. I was just the middleman.”
  • Denial: Is not just a river in Egypt. “I didn’t do it. You never saw me do it. You can’t prove anything.”
  • Argumentativeness: There are people who love to cynically disagree and there are people who aren’t seeking to disagree, but to merely act as the “Devil’s Advocate.” The first type seeks to destroy for the sake of elevating themselves and dismissing others (see Put-Downs above). The second type seeks to push others to greatness in projects and ideas. It’s a simple matter of collaboration versus condemnation.
  • Lying: This one is simple. Just remember, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. Just ask President Nixon. Actually, no, ask former President Bill Clinton.
  • Slander:  Slander is a false spoken statement. For instance “Sheila has to have this project succeed, after all, she’s gotta support her kids since her husband lost his job.” Libel is a false written statement. For instance, Sheila has ten kids by four men and can’t support any of them.
  • Gossip: This last one is particularly cancerous and corrosive because in life, while “that’s just how Bill is,” or “Sheila always takes a long lunch,” may not immediately seem to be damaging, the long term effects of such statements can serve to lead to everything other negative communication behavior on this list.

-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
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