Have you ever gone out to eat with someone? You politely ask them what they want to have and they say "Anything". So you suggest a restaurant and they respond "I don't like that sort of cuisine". So you ask again about what they want and they reply again "Anything".This game goes on as you go through choices which they continue to reject while claiming that anything is fine.
Attribution: Flickr - Jenavieve
This could be solved by simply making a more directed positive statement such as "I want something light", "I want to try something new" or "I need something warm and filling as it is a cold day" and so on.
This is not an isolated case. Many graphic designers will tell you that they have customers that will not provide any direction but say "I will like it when I see it". Then of course they reject every idea that is put forward.
Some people seem to relish being negative. You can see it in the Urbanspoon and Yelp! reviews. People who will actually say "This was my favourite place and I have been coming here for years because of the great service and food, however this one time there was this small problem with the service or product so I am never ever coming back here again!"
Some people even seem to define their life this way. Whenever they interact with others it is to disagree, to stop others from doing things and to criticize. It is a manager who calls you into their office to tell you that you have been doing things the wrong way but refuses to tell you how to do them the right way. Of course, they will then be negative about everything. Make too many mistakes - you have to go slowly. Take care - then you have to speed up, but then you make mistakes. In the end the manager is never happy.
Or the parent who only pays attention to their kids when they are doing something wrong. The kids then learn how to do the wrong thing to gain attention.
Negativity is, well, negative. Negative criticism means that change will be random and you lose control. Some people take it to such extremes that you never ever hear them say anything positive.
While only positivity can take things in the direction you want.
So can we always be positive?
From a management point of view I usually use the sandwich technique where you say something positive, describe the negative and finish with a positive. This can be applied to anything. Trying to decide which restaurant to choose you can say a positive, a negative, followed by a positive, such as "I want to try something new, but I don't like anything too hot and spicy, and I heard some good things about a Tibetan restaurant near here."
Attribution: Pixabay - geralt
Can't we just be totally positive?
Negative words and actions can be used to quickly stop a behaviour. Why do you think some people are so quick to be negative? Yet negativity by itself won't solve a problem. Imagine a teacher who punishes a child for doing the wrong thing. That child falls into line quickly. Yet some teachers end up with a student who is always being punished but is uncontrollable. The reason of course is that the teacher never tries to do anything explicitly positive, so the poor child can never learn to go from their bad behaviour to what the teacher wants.
Attribution: Pixabay - br_ruy
Knowing what you want is the secret to beating negativity
Negativity is about reacting to something that we don't like. Positivity is about embracing something that you do like. In the example of choosing a restaurant, the secret is having some idea about what you want to eat, whether it is something as simple as saying that you want something light.
Attribution: Flickr - SortOfNatural
That is the whole problem is that we don't always know what we want or how to express it properly. Especially when it isn't something specific, where a person says that they want to eat a specific food at a specific restaurant.
Do you really want to be negative?
Sometimes I find myself starting to complain too much. This is a sign that I need to find some way to change my life for the better and take action. After all, complaining rarely gets much done - and it is what people who can't do anything do.