“N” is for Negativity
(This is the “N” installment of the series, “Alphabet for Leaders.”)
Most of the people I know make negative statements based on imagined negative speculations. That includes me. When we don’t know the facts we make them up. We assume we know another’s motives, secret thoughts and negative intentions even when we don’t.
On the other hand, I know a few positive people with cheery dispositions. They walk around with half-full cups. But I don’t trust them. It seems to me, they are deluding themselves or they are deluding others. Either way, they can’t be trusted. Of course I’m being sarcastic. However, there is a hint of truth in my sarcasm. I do have a natural skepticism toward people who are always up beat.
A negative friend says, “Things are going really great. I’m just waiting for something bad to happen.”
The positive side of negativity is you’ll eventually be right. Bad things happen. Problems arise. Crisis is inevitable.
I’m a pessimist dealing with negativity.
#1. If you feel negative, please don’t pretend you don’t feel it. You can’t fix what you don’t own.
#2. Get over saying, “I’m not a pessimist, I’m just a realist.”
#3. Not all negativity is bad. Anticipating problems, resistance, choke points, and other difficulties helps leaders devise strategies and solutions.
#4. Confidence reinforces positive attitudes. Feeling like you’re capable or at least able to become capable lowers stress and enhances an affirmative approach. Confidence eliminates, “I can’t.” Positive people say, “I don’t know but I’m sure we can figure it out.”
#5. Get the facts rather than feeding negativity with imagined speculations.
I’m a recovering pessimist. I still squint at the brightness of positivity. It doesn’t come naturally. However, I’m finding that positivity takes me where I want to go while negativity strengthens the status quo.
How can negative people develop positive attitudes?
What other words that begin with “N” can you add to the “Alphabet for Leaders?”
An ever present debate — is positivism delusional or can it actually produce positive results? I am not a soothsayer yet the difference you highlight is not about reality it is about the anticipation of what is to come.
So my vote is for positive thinking and my “N” contribution to the leadership alphabet is “Never” say never. The positive outlook does breed one thing that negative thinking doesn’t — the DESIRE to WORK toward success. The ‘momentum” word you mentioned in the M post needs positive thinking to keep it going.
The negative moments will come — of course. Yet if a leader is firmly grounded in reality, the ability to say no when needed will be there. Positive thinking, as an outlook, doesn’t erase the ability to say no when necessary and it also creates alternatives to replace what is failing.
Off to a busy day. Thanks for another great post!
“Positive thinking, as an outlook, doesn’t erase the ability to say no when necessary and it also creates alternatives to replace what is failing.”
Great thought. Thank you.
Kate has a wealth of helpful resources on her website at:
http://katenasser.com/ Here focus is people skills.
Dan, great post! (how’s that for positive!?) seriously though, I can’t recall where this is from (Jim Collins, Warren Buffet, …) but to hold 2 attitudes/viewpoints simultaneously: 1) A brutal honesty about how things are at the moment. 2) An ironclad hope for the future.
If I am honest about the present (however great or terrible it is) I can attend to what needs to be attended to. And if I have a hope in the future that cannot be shaken by how things are at the moment, I can do what I need to do about the present.
Thanks for your faithfulness in writing.
Nice quotes to add. You filled a niche.
Hope for the future isn’t born in pretending the present is great. Real hope lives in and with brutal honesty.
Thank you for stopping in today,
Scott blogs at: http://www.servingstrong.typepad.com/
Acceptance and acknowledgement alleviate fear and boost confidence and open door to learn and mix up, whereas wearing mask of positivity and showing optimism is sure sign of fooling others for self interest. Classic examples are insurance agents and other maketeers. They always talk in term of making you rich on the spot with bunch of benefits on imaginary situations. But the reality is far from truth what they promise. Negative people can develop positive attitude only by realising. They should win their Ego and unmask their disposition and accept reality
I believe in negativity. If you think about the worst, nothing more than the worst will happen and that is the extreme and above that everything is positive. Most of problems arise when we never think about negativity and always think about positivity. So, one should put best effort and should be aware about the worst case. And I am sure, this will provide more optimism and confidence in your approach. I also belive optimism is more painful than pessimism because in adverse condition, pessimism creates more pleasure than optimism.
The N of leaderships are- Natural,nucleus, negotiate,notice, next, north ( true north), nostalgia, nepotism, negligent, narrow. Leader should be natural and his values are nucleas to his leadership. He should be like true north who can show the path. He should not be nostalagic and should not believe in nepotism and his vision should not be narrow.
I hadn’t thought about those who use positivism to manipulate. Thanks for opening my eyes!
I love it when you say “I believe in negativity” 🙂 Makes me feel positive.
As always, I enjoy your comments!
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Dan – as Jim Collins says, great companies and leaders confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith. Those who see ugly reality and despair or turn cynical sink into negativity; they will be stuck with the ugly status quo. Those who see the same ugly reality and choose to also see opportunity for improvement may or may not achieve their goals – but at least they have a shot. Cynics my call the optimists naive, but who has the better chance of creating a better world? The older I get, the more optimistic I become, even though I think I see problems and complications clearer than when I was younger. Yep, it’s ugly out there – and can’t you smell the potential?
My favorite N’s: network (the connections we foster that enrich and enable) and non-negotiables (the core values that define us).
Onward to O!
Realistic comment. I find I’m becoming more positive also. Life is just better.
As you know, I love networking, meeting new people and seeing what good might come. Great N’s
Pessimist: “O” no there is another letter in the alphabet?
Optimist: “O” boy the are still more letters in the alphabet!
Best to you my friend,
Dan is a recovering pessimist…”Hiiiiii Dannnnn! or maybe more negatively appropo it is, “Meh, Dan.”
I support and endorse Neophobia. (rimshot)
So, I heart Nihilism, doesn’t work here either? (second rimshot)
With negative eyes, there does seem to be a twisted personal secondary gain by saying, ‘I told you so, knew it wouldn’t work, nyah, nyah.’ Speaks to maturity level perhaps.
Seems we are back into choice/perspective. There is a choice to be negative or positive and depends on how we view the situation. So as leaders, what do we do with negativism? Ignore, deny, get angry, hope it goes away?
As Ajay noted, acceptance and acknowledgment work and that mitigates some of the negative power.
So, even though it seems more comfortable (short term) to avoid the negative, perhaps we need to ‘lean into’ it (sorry seem to be stuck back at ‘L’) or get Nearer to it and embrace it…even Nurture it. From that discontent, there are Nuggets of truth, Neutrons of energy (which can be converted negatively or positively) and opportunities to learn about what we fear, what we do not know and then begin to grow.
Your #5, get the facts (News?) is crucial as the rumor mill travels faster than email. Leaders operating without the full story (or Omitting details) lose credibility and faith. (sorry crept into the “O”s.)
Other Nice ‘N’s…nexus, network and noble.
PS: For “N” how did we miss out on Spiro…nattering nabobs of negativism?
If you don’t stop cracking me up I’m going to have to nix your comments. Plus I had to go look up nabobs… holy cow! If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were engaging in nincompoopery. But I can see you are no ninny.
And what about out-doing the blogger by suggesting an “N” word for get the facts! You are really pushing it nerd boy. 🙂 Talk about the triumph of form over content!
Let me nudge you toward the idea that I can delete all comments coming from ostentatious commenters (even featured contributors).
NO, seriously, I agree with you – we can choose to be negative or positive. Right now I’m kneeling on one knee and giving you props.
I’d offer you a nickel for your thoughts but I’m afraid of what I’d get. 😉
Doc is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at:
Thanks for noticing the nonsense Dan…BTW-I am holding back the big guns for when we get to ‘X’!
Kate’s comment about a leader who can say ‘no’ when needed rang true. Very hard to do well. Many avoid that because it can be perceived as a negative interaction…but is a necessary leadership skill.
So, you know you may have a book or two in all these A-Zs…
Simpson (not Homer) suggested that in classification of mammals we tend to be either ‘lumpers’ or ‘splitters’ and this perspective has transferred over to biology, shipping, history even liturgy. One might suggest, if you were to do a book, that you split the A-Zs into a positive section and a negative section for leaders to ponder and prospect…oops, getting ahead of the list.
Given the comments in this section, may have more post options with negative and positive perspectives.
I can give you a pair of dime change for your nickel anytime Dan…(;
staying positive is a struggle for me…but I am trying because it seems like more gets done when you are positive.
It may not come naturally but I think its needed. And, in my case, life is better when I’m positive.
Good observation, Matt.
By design, we see opportunity when positive. Opportunity doesn’t ‘go away’ when we’re negative – we just close ourselves off to it. Good luck.
Negativity. It’s a great reality check.
I think it’s fantastic that you know what sort of person you are – a realist who squints in the face of optimism. I believe everyone should know whether they’re a half-empty/half-full type of person … because that’s how you’ll handle different situations.
Personally as a positive sort of person I always find the glass half full. Often too full, in fact sometimes my cup runneth over, on to the table creating a complete mess!
Negativity if adopted constructively brings me back down to earth and acts as a reality check.
A lot of good comments here, I’ll add my own to the mix:
Whenever people ask me if I see the glass as half-empty or half-full, say, “I’m less concerned about that – I’m more focused on how to fill the glass the rest of the way.”
Nice shift of the perspective Tim, will be borrowing that one…might even ask why it is only one glass.
“The positive side of negativity is you’ll eventually be right.”
I’d enlarge that into say ‘the POWERFUL side of negativity is that you’ll eventually be right.’
Some people will do anything for the validation of being right … and I do mean ANYTHING.
There are other more effective options, usually with fewer losses.
Thanks for posting this, Dan.
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