Why Being Negative Works

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being_negativeHave you had complainers around you, or people that always focus on the stuff that does not work? Is it annoying? You can read a lot about staying positive. I try to be positive most of the time, I am an optimistic creature and I love it when people are in a great mood around me. I hate complaining. But let’s face it, many complainers are actually right.

How can you as a manager or co-worker turn the negative to something positive? Most likely you are so tired of all the complaining that you want to throw someone out the window. Let’s us say that you have two teams, one with only positive and optimistic people, and one with some negative people and some happy, life is great kind of people. What team would be the best? Unless you are aware and observant the team with the optimistic and positive bunch will most likely succeed. That is why you should harvest the negativity in a system.

Teach the negative people to be negative at the proper moments. A lot of people burst out during a meeting just to create a cloud of blargh.. hanging in the air. Talk one on one with the most negative people; appreciate their ability to be a critic. After all negative people tend to see things that are not working. Ask them to write down 5 negative things about their job. But also ask them to write a possible solution to the problem. (1. This “writing down the things that don’t work” task sucks. Solution: Do not provide stupid tasks like this ever again, I hate to write.)

If you manage to spot a problem that you can fix, remember who told you about it. And when the problem is fixed, brag to the person that made you see this problem, and thank him for the contribution. This will make the negative people feel like they actually are making a difference and they learn that being negative in the right way can make a difference.

As with raising children, be consistent with the negative tribe. Do not allow them to complain without a solution or at least a suggestion to a solution. If you get an e-mail saying; “I am sick of the toilet always being dirty” – Answer: “That’s too bad, it seems like it is always going to stay dirty.” Do never offer a solution to the problem yourself. If they start to act out in public or in a meeting with more people present say: “I hear you, do you think we can talk about this in private later?”

Putting negativity into a system will give you a great view about what is not working right. Where positive people tend to go: “Nah..it’s not such a big deal, it will probably be fixed soon anyway.” The negative people will tell you that this problem needs to be fixed. – Positive people always think that problems are fixed by a major karma force in the universe.

I actually just recently realized this after an interesting conversation at work about daring to point out the things that doesn’t work. As the happy positive always smiling person I am, I always tend to focus on the positive things. Hold on for a shocker: Positive things, might already be working just fine! It is the negative things that need to be fixed, to become better! Please someone give me the Negativity Report for Q2.

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