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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When People Don’t Understand There Are Lots of Ways to Be Right

What’s your first reaction to a new possibility? And importantly, what are typical reactions to new possibilities from the people who surround you? Lately, I’m encountering more people whose first reaction is why something won’t work, how they know better than I do about it, or who simply react with a hostile tone.

For someone who espouses openness to ideas, I’m seeing detrimental impacts on my attitude. When you hear enough negatives, it can lead you to also start reacting negatively to new possibilities out of frustration, spite, or self-protection.

What to do in this type of situation? Overtly model positive behavior and hope they get it? Challenge them directly on how they dampen creativity? Leave the relationship for the sake of creative self-preservation?

No single answer works - each choice has its own advantages and peculiar stumbling blocks. Sounds like some type of combo is in order. We’ll see how that possibility works. Mike Brown

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Jan said...

Great post -- it's so important to keep this top of mind. I think there are times when people don't even realize how negative they sound, and how much they're squelching creativity. If that's who you're dealing with, simply calling them on it and forcing them to take the opposite view helps. Others apparently want to be defeatists ... I try to avoid them, when possible. And ignore them, when not.

Mike Brown said...

Interesting point Jan.

When there's a big gap between how somebody is perceived and how they perceive themselves, simply calling them on it isn't a quick fix. It may take something you've talked about before of catching them doing it right a number of time and overly praising them for it.

Kelly Graham said...

There is no place for negativity and pessimism in the work place. It derails collaboration and undermines team morale. Remove the cancer before it infects you. Surround yourself with others who understand the value of being positive and open-minded.