Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

Years ago, Bing Crosby sang a song that had the title of today’s “Tip.” And it wasn’t bad advice. Unfortunately, a good portion of our society and many of our workplaces do just the opposite.

Just look at the news. It’s mostly negative. As one person said, CNN stands for “Constant Negative News.” And in the bizarre world of broadcasting, a killing is always covered while acts of kindness are almost always ignored.

Look at our younger workers. In a national survey of 16 to 29 year olds, MTV reported that “angry” and “stressed out” were the best descriptors of that generation. I’m not exactly sure why, but I know those are negative descriptors, not positive.

When I’m consulting with an organization or speaking at a meeting, I notice a similar negativity among some older workers. I can go into the hallways, lunchrooms, or work area, and all too often I see a whining-griping-complaining syndrome. The light has gone out in people’s eyes. People come to work with a sense of routinism and obligation rather than passion.

This has got to stop. After all, what could be worse than spending 30 to 40 years of your life in a negative work environment? Besides robbing you of your health and happiness, it’s almost impossible to produce high quality goods or provide exceptional customer service in a negative environment.

You’ve got to look at two things. You’ve got to look at yourself, and you’ve got to look at others to see where the negativity is coming from. And if you’re part of the problem, if you’re more negative than you should be, I can’t think of a better time to do something about that than right now. This is the holiday season, and this is a great time to become a more positive person.

=> 1. Start By Taking A Good, Honest, And Perhaps Uncomfortable Look At Your Actions.

Are you making your work environment a better or worse place to work? You’re never a neutral. You’re doing something to make your organization more positive or more negative. Stop and think. What would your workplace be like if everybody acted just like you?

=> 2. Look At Your Words.

Can you go for 24 hours without saying anything negative? When I ask my audiences that question, a few raise their hands signifying “Yes,” but the vast majority shout “No.”

I tell them, “If you can’t say ‘Yes’ to that question, you have a serious problem. If you can’t go 24 hours without drinking alcohol, you’re addicted to alcohol. If you can’t go 24 hours without smoking cigarettes, you’re addicted to nicotine. And if you can’t go 24 hours without saying something unkind, you’re addicted to negativity.”

I like the way one anonymous person put it. He or she wrote the following poem.

The ones who miss out on the fun
Are those who say,
“It can’t be done.”

In solemn praise they stand aloof
And greet each venture with reproof.

Had they the power they’d efface
The history of the human race.

We’d have no radio or motor cars,
No streets lit by electric stars;
No telegraph or telephone,
We’d linger in the age of stone.

The world would sleep if things were run
By those who say,
“It can’t be done.”

If these questions make you think you’re a bit too negative, go on to the third thing you need to do.

=> 3. Realize The Price You’re Paying For Staying Negative.

In a study done at Duke University Medical Center, it was discovered that people with high levels of cynical, complaining behaviors were 50% more likely to have clogged arteries than those who were less negative. In another one of their studies, people with high cynicism scores had five times more heart disease than those who scored below the median. Quite simply, complainers do not live as long as positive people.

=> 4. Quit Keeping Track Of The Negatives.

Did you ever notice that on a bad day, some people tend to count every irritation or inconvenience that occurs? They’ll burst out with, “This is the third time today something like this has happened.” Yet seldom on a good day do these people say, “This is the third time today something great has happened.” Keeping track of the negative reinforces a negative personality.

=> 5. Talk About The Good Things Instead.

Look for them. You might discover there are more positive things going on than you realized. Look for things to celebrate rather than complain about. And keeping yourself in a positive frame of mind means you will get more enjoyment from your work and personal life.

Action:  I challenge you to make 5 positive comments at work every day. Even in the worst of situations, there are always some good things. Notice them and comment on them. And as you do, and as others get in the habit, you can make your workplace a better place to work.