Every now and then it can happen that you speak to someone about a particular job, and instead of sensing their excitement, you sense their reservations — and it has nothing to do with the position.
When that happens, it may be because there’s misinformation being spread that is prompting negative impressions about a person, a team, or even an entire organization.
In the age of social media, it’s easy for rumours and gripes to catch on fast. An employee or client with a grudge can quickly Twitter and Facebook their discontent. And sadly, mud can stick.
The result may be that good talent can be scared off a possibly terrific opportunity because they got the wrong end of the stick.
At The Bagg Group, we make a point of urging our candidates to be wary of those who don’t have one good thing to say about a person or place. As the saying goes, there are always two sides to every story, or three, “yours, mine and the truth.”
Still, it can take some work to change people’s thinking when it’s been infected with negativity. But there’s a great deal of research on how do this. One of the leaders in this area is Professor Stephan Lewandowsky from the University of Western Australia.
The experts at The Bagg Group particularly recommend his four key findings.
Having interviewed over 100,000 people over 40 years to place more than 58,000 successfully in permanent, part-time and contract positions, we can confirm that his tips are tried-and-true.
Don’t just deny, explain: If someone tells you of misinformation, it’s tempting to just shrug it off. But dismissing it doesn’t necessarily convince the person that it’s not true. It’s best to try and explain reasons for why that negative view may be in circulation.
Keep your explanation brief: A few fast facts is all people need, or want, to understand. If your explanation is complicated, or lengthy, people will turn off. Besides, you don’t want to come off as defensive, simply factual.
People remember negatives easily. Try not to repeat the offensive misinformation more than once. According to research, people’s belief in ideas strengthen after they’ve heard the idea three to five times. So reiterate the positives a few times, not the negatives.
Ask people to consider the source of the negative info before making up their minds: You wouldn’t want to come off as attacking the source because you don’t want to deal with the personal, just the factual. Still, it can be helpful to ask someone to recognize the possibility that the source of the information may be misinformed or simply biased for reasons of their own.
At The Bagg Group, we have found that enthusiastic high-achievers, who are the kind of people you want to employ, are more than willing to give up negative impressions if you give them good reason to see the positive.