Working and Career

Working and Career

Brandon Smith

'I'm Negative'

By Brandon SmithPosted November 8, 2012 1:19pm (EST)
'I'm Negative'

Are you suffering from a severe case of negativity? Are you a “glass half empty” kinda person? Do people generally tell you that you are a total “buzz-kill” to be around? If the answer to those questions is “yes,” then this month is for you. And unlike many past dysfunctions we’ve taken on, negativity is a different type of dysfunction for many reasons. First, with most traditional workplace dysfunctions, the problem is often someone else (my boss, my coworker, my company, etc…). With negativity, the problem lies squarely in the mirror. Second, no one is immune from this particular dysfunction. Whether it’s getting passed over for a promotion or the general feeling that nothing we do is ever “good enough,” we all go through bouts of negativity. The distinction between healthy levels of negativity and dysfunctional levels of negativity is directly tied to the length in which you stay stuck in that nasty place. Do you pull yourself out quickly or do you make yourself comfortable and hang out in the land of discontent for months on end? Visiting for a night is fine. Staying for an extended period is catastrophic.

Negativity kills

You may be saying to yourself, “Brandon, you make this out to be such a big deal. Is this really all that bad? After all, some people view my negativity as a good thing. They see me as a realist.” If that’s you, here’s my answer for you: you’re kidding yourself. Negativity kills. It kills relationships with direct reports, it kills relationships with coworkers, it kills relationships with the boss and most importantly, it kills relationships at home (spouse and children). But we kid ourselves and don’t see negativity for what it is. Individuals that bring persistently high levels of negativity to their job and life often veil it under the guise of being a “critical thinker.” While focused doses of “critical” can be necessary and productive, unbridled criticism and negativity breeds disaster. Don’t believe me? Stay tuned. I’m bringin’ the research. From Bob Sutton at Stanford and his research on effective / ineffective managers, to the folks at the Gottman Institute studying marriage, negativity comes with heavy costs.

On tap for this month

This month we will be tackling negativity. Amongst others, some of our topics will include:

  • Some of the greatest triggers of negativity in our lives (common negativity-producing occupations, scenarios, and events)
  • Signs your negativity has tipped from normal levels to highly destructive / nuclear
  • Ways to counter negativity at work
  • Ways to counter negativity at home

At the end of the month, I’ve got two goals for each of us (myself included):

  1. For each of us to find ways to manage our negativity more effectively.
  2. For each of us to come out feeling more thankful of what we have than when we started the month. Not a bad tie into November 22 (Thanksgiving) if I do say so myself.

Before we get started, you’ll need the following materials: a glass half filled with water, a mirror, and a picture of the one’s you love. Once you’ve got ‘em, you’re ready to begin. Further instructions on their way…

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