Do Passive-Aggressive Signs in Business Work?

Interview: Carol Barkes

This comes from a communications expert, Carol Barkes. Here are some talking points for an interview about passive-aggressive signs:

Our brains pay more attention to negative things than positive. It goes back to ancient times when negative things could mean death. Consequently, our brains notice and log negative messaging more than positive messaging. Unfortunately, our brains also direct us to move towards reward and away from threats.

Examples of Passive-Aggressive Signs:

  1. Restrooms are for patrons only.
  2. Unattended children will be given espresso and a free puppy.
  3. Do to the rising summer temps, we will not accept boob or sock money!
  4. This is not Burger King: You don’t get it your way. It’s our way or no way.
  5. No more than 2 questions per customer.
  6. No, we don’t have wi-fi. Talk to each other!

  • Unfortunately, this means, negative signs can unconsciously steer people away from a business as our brains associate negative feelings with the business.

  • Many times, the messages are for random offenders and are better dealt with by a one on one conversation. For instance, “Restrooms are for patrons only.” We know this. By posting a sign, your customers are now alerted to a drama that does not involve them and shouldn’t. Their experience should be inviting and welcoming.

  • Further, our brains respond to fairness. When negative messaging is present, we can see the business as negative and aggressive. This in turn can make our unconscious brain look to right wrongs. Consequently, people may not be as forgiving to the business when errors are made.  This can pop out in the form of negative reviews, less business and more theft.

  • Ditch the negative messaging and if something must be said, find a positive way to say it.

Available for Interviews: Carol Barkes

Carol Barkes, CPM, is a trend-setting mediator, business executive and educator specializing in the use of neuroscience to improve business performance, interpersonal communications, negotiation and conflict resolution processes for optimally successful results. She is also a speaker, educator, and author of the bestselling book: Success Breakthroughs.

Jo Allison
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.

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