Correctly classifying negative and depressing information: Attention destructors!


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Information is important, and especially in difficult situations we can't get enough of it. But some information is simply harmful because it frustrates, depresses and demotivates. How do we deal with that?

Correctly classifying negative and depressing information: Attention destructors!

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Dealing with negative information without losing reality

Some information that we get in the media, but also from colleagues, acquaintances or friends, is demotivating and can spoil our mood. We become increasingly aware of this, especially when major media events and global crisis situations dominate the flood of information. But how should we deal with it without completely losing sight of reality?

It is important to separate from the outset: information does not always apply to you or benefit you. And unfortunately the human brain remembers negative things better than positive things. This quickly makes a situation look more negative than it actually is.

Unfocused media reports increase frustration

For example, negative economic and political news has a very demotivating effect. These include bankruptcies, unemployment figures, pandemics - and politicians who discuss, try out and reject solutions and finally pass laws that have a negative impact on our existence. This constant back and forth causes fear of existence for many people.

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Unfortunately, media reporting is not always factual. Information is often colored emotionally because it makes it easier to sell it. In addition, not everything you hear there is a fact: every medium wants to be brand new; then the reports of individual politicians or bills are reported as if they were already set in stone.

Passing on information like with the whisper post

It works similarly to the game whispering from childhood: the information is sent out, and everyone who passes it on packs their personal interpretations, opinions and fears - not only in the media, but also in your personal environment.

Some people intentionally want to demotivate you with their information, for example because they are jealous. This also happens unconsciously, without the message bearers wanting to harm you consciously. Or they generalize individual experiences and apply them to the entire situation. Make these behavior patterns clear and evaluate such statements carefully.

Echo chambers are to blame for most discussions going past each other

Another problem is that many people live in an echo chamber and hear the same or similar information over and over again. As a result, they consider this filter bubble perception to be reality. Eli Pariser, President of the American citizens' initiative MoveOn.org, stated in a highly acclaimed TED talk that this phenomenon can be observed especially among social media users and that it is intensified considerably by online communication.

The filter bubbles are to blame for the fact that many discussions in and about the network simply run past each other. Everyone scolds in their own brew and only talks about instead of with each other. Why search for matches when every user can avoid the need for a compromise by entering “his” filter bubble? Pariser has now published a book on this subject, which he gave the appropriate title “The Filter Bubble”. How do such filter bubbles arise?

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Critically question demotivating information

This shows that you should always critically review the information you receive for factual content and benefits - for example with the six W questions. In doing so, you also take the horror out of demotivating statements. You do not need to pay attention to information that does not help you at the moment. Incidentally, this applies not only to media reporting, but also when friends, acquaintances or the family tell something.

So you should critically question every piece of information and check its factual content - with these six W questions:

  • Who said or wrote that? Is the information a fact or a personal opinion of that person?
  • What is the reason behind this? Does the information provider have a personal advantage of passing on the information in this way?
  • What is the factual essence behind this statement?
  • How does this statement affect me? Does it concern me at all? Does the information benefit me?
  • What do I think about this thing myself - regardless of the opinion of others?
  • Where can I find further information, if necessary, to form my own opinion?

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