#1. Don’t minimize the concerns of negative people. When you say, “It’s not that bad,” to someone who thinks it’s bad, they think that you don’t get it. You’re out of touch. They’ll spend their energy trying to ‘help’ you understand how bad things really are.
When you try to encourage people by explaining that things aren’t that bad, you invite them to explain how bad things really are.
You encourage negativity when you minimize the problems negative people see.
#2. Connect with negative people by agreeing with them at least a little.
- “Wow! That sounds terrible.” It may not be terrible to you, but it’s terrible to them. Think of a child with a little boo boo. What do you do?
- “You know you’re right. This is a tough situation.”
- “I can see how frustrating this must be.”
You connect with people when you go with them, not when you push against them.
Don’t agree that problems are insurmountable. Just agree that it’s bad. Perhaps they complain that they’re under time pressure. Say, “Wow. You really seem busy.”
#3. Don’t try to fix a negative person’s problem for them, if it’s their job to fix it. When you try to fix something for a negative person, they explain why your solution won’t work. Now you’re in an adversarial conversation that has a winner and a loser.
#4. Find a small yes. The possibility of progress provides positive energy. You might say, “I don’t think we can find a perfect solution to this problem. Is there some small aspect of this situation we can make better?”
Wait for the, “Yes.”
When people acknowledge to themselves that forward movement is possible, their minds shifts. They move from explaining what can’t be done to what could be done.
How might leaders move negative people toward a more positive approach?