Shocked cartoon man looking at computer

Backed by research: Controversial news is more often accepted if communicated verbally, rather than in writing.

Juliana Schroeder of the University of California at Berkeley and faculty at the University of Chicago recently conducted several experiments on the way controversial news is received when it’s delivered verbally versus in writing. All of her research suggests that controversial news is received more favorably than when it’s delivered verbally.

“Because another person’s mind cannot be experienced directly, its quality must be inferred from indirect cues,” said Schroeder. Those cues, involving the many characteristics of the human voice, are absent in written communication.

As she explains to The Washington Post, in one experiment she conducted, a person read a speech excerpt from a politician and the reader strongly disagreed with the politician. A week later, the same person heard the same speech on the radio and he was shocked by how differently he reacted towards the same message. When he heard the speech, he no longer disagreed with the politician, but rather, found his message much more reasonable.

We, at Communispond, agree wholeheartedly with what was found in these research studies. In fact, we had an article published by the American Management Association stating the exact same thing. You can download the article by click on the link below.

Click to download Delivering Bad News and Getting Good Results

How to perfect the art of communicating difficult or controversial news

Communispond offers several one and two-day programs designed to help professionals become more confident, persuasive, and powerful presenters. Some of the programs we offered that help more specifically with delivering difficult or controversial news are:

You can reach out to Communispond to have your specific needs assessed and help you determine which program is right for you and/or your team.

What if you don’t have the option of communicating verbally?

Yes, we stand behind the importance of delivering controversial news verbally, but also realize that that is not always an option. And for those instances, we recommend writing a well thought-out message. Communispond is able to help you with that.

Communispond offers several writing skills training programs to help you with how to write an effective message. Some of these programs include:


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