It was four months since Ajmal, newly hired, had been assigned to trouble shoot with the head of the accounting department. He’d had plenty of opportunity to see why the top management had been so concerned over antiquated accounting procedures and why they’d asked him to see what could be done. But this opportunity quickly tuned into a futile and frustrating experience. Everyone was so resistant; especially the supervisor had all the wrong answers. Whenever Ajmal tires to find ways to get around problems, the supervisor just says. “They tired that two years ago and it flopped”. At the end of four months, Ajmal’s well of ideas dried up. Supervisor certainly has done a good job to dragging Ajmal down.
People such as supervisor are negativists. They respond to anyone else’s productive suggestion with negativity. They commonly use phrases like “it won’t work”, it is not worth trying”, “forget it”, “management never let us do it”. These phrases are used with solid conviction that individuals likely to begin believing in them. The potential for despair in each of us give much power to negativists. They are like complaints, convinced that they have little power over their own lives. With so little belief in their ability to influence things, they focus more on to de-track and de-motivate people. They strongly believe that any task not in their own hands will fail. Because of such believe that others on power do not care or are self serving, their pessimistic statements are made with conviction. They use negative analysis profitably to those who are good at telling why projects went wrong. Negative analysis is a practical decision making method in which individuals search for unplanned effects that might result from a given cause of action.
Here are few tips which are quite handy to muddle through with negativists.
State Your Own Optimism:
Poor situations cannot always be reduced. There are always choices. While dealing with problems never lose hope. While encountering with pessimistic people mobilize your realistic optimism. Be ready to say the message twice if necessary. Always alter your passivity or hoping for the best attitude with realistic and active optimism.
You should not try to convince negativists to admit that they are wrong. It is wasteful. They believe that nothing will work. The discussion will easily lewd into an ‘I am right’, ‘you are wrong’ argument. Instead of confronting directly, you should be the one showing some alternatives which actually works.
Never Rush Into Suggesting Solutions:
In meetings avoid proposing solutions to whatever problem is under consideration, when coping with a negativist. They tend to move out of the discussion when the focus is on describing the problem. If you suggest your solution in a rush, he will catch up you with why this won’t work.
Use Negativism Constructively:
Negativists focus on restrictive forces or hurdles which can act as barrier in completing or accomplishing the prescribed tasks. Hear them patiently, note their concerns. Pay attention to the details provided by them. Make benchmarks for these don’ts. Enlist all the factors and prioritize with urgency level. At length, be ready to take action on your own. Announce your plans and work on them.
“If you find yourself plagued by a recurrent worry, train yourself to think of something else. Your conscious mind can concentrate on only one thought at a time, and driving the negatively away will free up to move forward again”. – Harvey Mackay