7 Ways to Help People Pivot from Negative to Positive
To get the ball rolling at the beginning of presentations, I share my cellphone number and ask people to text me fun questions. Serious questions come later.
2 fun questions I recently received:
Question #1: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
This question comes from the movie, “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail.” I wasn’t sure at the time, but after some research I discovered that it’s 24 miles per hour. (Style)
Question#2: Is a hotdog a sandwich?
A hotdog is NOT a sandwich. (NHDSC)
7 ways to help people pivot from negative to positive.
A serous question: As a leader, how do you help people become more positive?
#1. Listen to concerns.
Having concerns isn’t negativity. But don’t make promises you can’t keep. Negativity will escalate until concerns are heard.
Blind optimism isn’t positive leadership.
#2. Pivot from negative to positive. Say, “I see what we can’t do. What could we try?”
#3. Use the Bob the Builder method. The question, “Can we fix it?” helps shift thinking. (How to See the Bad and Pursue the Good)
#4. Begin meetings with affirmations and celebrations.
- Where are we winning?
- When I see you at your best …
- You’re really good at …
#5. Practice positive leadership.
Be positive if you expect positivity from others.
- Define positive leadership.
- Seek feedback on the positivity or negativity of your leadership.
- Adopt behaviors that energize people.
- Avoid complaining about negative people.
#6. Explore the value of positive energy.
- How important is energizing people to you?
- How might we make energizing people more important?
- How might we face harsh realities with positive energy?
#7. Give feedback on the impact of negativity.
“When you (name behavior), it drains me.” After feedback, employ #6 above. (Always speak for yourself when giving feeback.)
How might leaders help people pivot from negative to positive?
Building a Positive Team (MindTools)
the appropriate answer to the question on the air speed of an unladen swallow is a question. “African or European?”
When trying to turn negative to positive It is imperative to acknowledge the negative that is being brought forward. Not doing so is dismissive and will shut down any further discussion. This will bring some temporary peace to the manager who is shutting it down and it will deter that person from bringing forward concerns in the future. As humans we are hard wired to identify risk, some of us get caught up in it and need help finding our way out. A great leader will find a way to value that someone is bringing forward a risk before it becomes a crisis and use that person to find a way out.
Thanks Dan. Yes, in the movie the answer to the first question is another question. 🙂
It’s healthy to consider the dark side. Your use of dismissive is helpful. When leaders ignore difficulties others may conclude that the leader is out of touch.
African or European? Back to serious, great topic and is a good reminder to be positive.. but it is so easy to slide into the negative.
Thanks Mike. Yes, it’s natural for most of us to go to the dark side.
Dan, Monty Python fan’s would give you REAL street cred if you had asked if it they meant an African or European Swallow. I love the idea of opening a session by allowing unorthodox questions, because it indicates that this is a safe space where there are no wrong answers and we don’t take ourselves to seriously.
At the beginning of class, I sometimes say to my college students–
Please stand. In the next 20 seconds say hello, shake hands, and say something nice to as many people as you can.
These are always some laughs, smiles and energy boost after this exercise.
Thanks Paul. Sometimes moving from negative to positive is a simple as the class interaction you describe. Getting off to a positive beginning makes a positive ending more likely.
A suggestion for a future blog post. Middle managers are often faced with situations where discussions with senior management (#2 and #3 above) are over and the decision has been made. In those situations, there is little choice but to push through and execute the plan – that or quit and find a new job. Advice for middle managers on how to sell a plan they don’t agree with or fully buy into (short of quitting and finding a new job) might be a helpful future blog post. Negativity is often generated one or more levels above your pay grade.
Yes! I often find myself in this situation of needing to execute a plan I did not create. A post on leading from this standpoint would be quite welcome.
I can agree with Dave. Not being brought into the plan early on or even being asked to give input and then having to be responsible for it can be damaging to leadership. My department is currently implementing someone else’s plan and I can see the stress on many faces a couple of years into this plan. It can create a toxic environment. Is there hope? Yes. In my example, we are setting up future endeavors to be more advantageous for us as we use newly learned skills and experience from this plan. As mid-level managers/leaders, there has to be a stop-gap to prevent that trickle down effect; to bring in that positive spin. I’ve always liked the question, what can we learn from this?
The way to open presentations by encouraging members in the audience to text you questions is such an awesome idea that I will be sure to use in the future! It is certainly easy to focus on the negative aspects on a situation because it can truly dictate one’s mood. I try to encourage others (and myself) to try and always focus on the positive of the situation regardless of how bleak a situation may be. There is a lot lately that is happening in the world that contributes to negative thinking, however focusing on the positives can be something that brings value and get you through those hard times. As a leader of my department, if I’m having a bad day or in a difficult situation, I never like to wear this on my sleeve as negative emotions can translate into negative thinking and spread like wild fire. Bringing a positive outlook onto all aspects or situations you may find yourself in is a great strategy to empower others to do the same. Looking and describing the cup as always half-full and applying this mindset will reap rewards for your mental health and physical health in the long term. By constantly dragging yourself down and looking at situations with a negative mindset, will affect mental health and if it prolongs long enough physical health as well.