Wednesday, February 4, 2009

8 Ways to Stay Positive in Tough Times

By Barbara Pachter

The economy has tanked. Sales are down. You're disappointed that you didn't get your promotion, you're angry at your colleague for missing a deadline, or you're bummed that you blew the presentation. It is easy at times like this to let negative events affect you and influence how you appear to others.

Many people don't realize that they have a pessimistic communication style and that they express themselves negatively. Yet in work, and in life, you do not want to let your negativity come through. It can affect your career if you do.

Who wants to be around someone who complains to others, puts people down, disagrees with you, or generally talks about downbeat topics? The answer is simple: No one does. These Negative Nellies or Neds view the glass, as the saying goes, half empty.

To start viewing the glass half full, practice these eight behaviors:

AVOID DOWNBEAT TOPICS. Don't keep discussing negative things. You do not want to keep talking about how you lost the contract, or how bad the economy is. People will steer clear of you to avoid listening to your negative comments.

REMIND YOURSELF TO BE POSITIVE. One man I coached put up a small sign by his desk with the initials KIP (Keep It Positive). Another man had a boss who would pass him a note that had B+ (be positive) on it if he started being negative in meetings.

TAKE ACTION. Don't let a bad situation paralyze you. Explore different options. Take a class, sign up for training. Keep your resume up-to-date; don't put your job search on hold. The more action you take, the more likely the issue will be resolved.

STOP COMPLAINING. Complaining is draining. People get tired of listening to the same negative comments about someone over and over again. If you have an issue with someone, talk to him or her, don't complain to others. Plus, people can start wondering what negative things you are saying about them.

DISAGREE AGREEABLY. Saying, "I see it differently," or "I disagree" lets people know that you have a different opinion without attacking them or their opinion. If you say, "You're wrong," you are pointing fingers.

AVOID USE OF THE WORD "BUT." "But" can negate what comes before it. If someone says, "I agree but ..." or "You did a nice job but ..." you are waiting for the bad news. Use the word "and." "You did a nice job, and it would even be better if ..."

WORD THINGS POSITIVELY. The same thought can often be expressed negatively or positively. One manager said, "I don't want my people viewed as unprofessional or incompetent." Or, "I want my people viewed as professional and competent." What would you rather hear?

REMEMBER YOUR NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION. Have a pleasant facial expression. No stern expressions, frowns, or stares of gloom as you go about your day. Greet people when you see them. Avoid sarcasm and eliminate any harsh tone to your voice.

This is the time to develop your communication and influencing skills.

Click here to learn more about the Priority Influencing Program

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