goldfish in danger - concept deceptionWhat is it about human nature that makes us want to bite the hook of negativity?

I recently worked on an initiative that “everyone” loved – meaning the majority vastly outweighed the minority by 20:1. With a few rare exceptions, the community involved embraced the initiative.

But the negative comments of just a few people have been the subject of discussion for several days.

Often, as is the case here, negative comments simply reflect a personal opinion or preference, not hard facts or quantifiable evidence. So why focus on these comments? After all, it’s just an opinion.

When you find yourself replaying negative comments over and over in your head, they start to carry more weight. Repeat them often enough and it can feel like “everyone” was critical, when it was only a few people. And that kind of thinking does a real disservice to the many people who supported the idea — in this case the overwhelming majority — and to the good work that you’re doing.

I often challenge people to be the most positive person in the room. It’s a tough thing to do — harder than you think if you’ve never tried it. But that’s exactly what’s needed in order to stop biting the negativity hook.

Here’s a few tips to get you there:

  1. Stop being hooked by the bait of negativity. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked and not able to see, never mind enjoy, the actual success that you’re experiencing.
  2. Quantify the negativity. When you see that you’ve got 20 supporters and only 1 naysayer, then you can also (hopefully) see how illogical it is to focus on the negative.
  3. Acknowledge people’s right to have a different opinion. You probably don’t love every idea you’re presented with and that’s OK. Different perspectives and opinions are what keep the world creative, innovative and interesting. On a different day, you may be the voice of dissent.
  4. Move on. Take your success and move forward. It’s virtually impossible to please all of the people all of the time, so don’t make that your goal. If you obsess on getting 100% buy-in, you risk never achieving success. You won! Own it.
  5. Celebrate your success. Take time to celebrate your positive results and share it with the people involved. Success breeds success but not if we never acknowledge it.

 Take the opinions of others with a grain of salt and only accept constructive criticism to make you better — not doubt your success.

Empowering change agent, Maureen “Mo” Douglas delivers powerfully positive public, workplace and leadership engagement. Click here for Mo’s FREE e-Guide to Better Public Engagement. Follow her on Twitter.