When you hear the question, “Do you see the glass half full or half empty,” what do you say? Do you smile and say you are an optimist but secretly admit that you don’t see the bright side of things as often as others? Or, do you openly admit that you are a pessimist and have been told that you are too negative? Are you looking to reduce negative thinking? If being a pessimist has caused some conflict in your life or you simply wish for more positivity, then these three tips may help you get the shift you need.
Tips to Reduce Negative Thinking
1. Make Pessimism a Strength
Do you tend to see the obstacles way ahead of everyone else? Have you thought “I told you so” more times than you can count? If so, then you probably are a strategic thinker. If you are strong in strategic thinking then you will find yourself looking ahead and analyzing the “big picture” more than task-oriented thinkers. While some people are focused on today, this strength allows you to focus on tomorrow and beyond.
This thought process may be what drives your pessimism and negative thinking. Being able to look further down the road will naturally bring questions and concerns that others may have not considered. Instead of seeing your observations as pessimism, change your outlook to focus on the strength of helping the group avoid pitfalls long-term. Present your “negatives” as the value you bring to the group and this may help you reduce negative thinking.
2. Focus on Delivery
While you may find your observations a strength, be careful how you communicate. The delivery of your message will make or break you – period. Optimists want to focus on the positives, so they will hear your concerns as negativity unless presented in a specific way. I have learned from experience that these communication techniques work best for me:
- Only share the concern mostly closely related to the topic of the current conversation. If you share too much or discuss long-range concerns too soon, others will not absorb all of what you are saying. This will lead them to believe that you are just being negative.
- Be open-minded. You may believe you “know” the outcome, but if you are seen as unwilling to listen or unwavering in your decision, others will feel that you are just being difficult to work with. You may have to actively allow other ides to be presented in order to move forward.
- Utilize positive attitude and body language. If you seem defensive, sit closed off or look inattentive with your group, then any concerns that you present will generally be received as pessimistic.
If you pay close attention to how you deliver your concerns and at what point in the conversation you share them, you will find that others will react to you in a more positive way.
3. Go Along for the Ride
If there is one thing I have learned from being a pessimist is that you need to go along for the ride. Stay quiet more than you speak, listen more than you share and be open to ideas of the conversation. Deliver only what is relevant in the moment and understand that for many people, the path to resolution is like an onion. The layers will be peeled back; it just takes time to get there. Think of each step as moving in the right direction.
While being a pessimist has the stigma of being a negative personality trait, it is actually a strength that many groups need in order to be successful. If you present your ideas in an open and planned manner, others will be less inclined to see you as having a negative influence and more as a strong mentor of the long-term vision. Once the perception of negativity shifts, more positivity and the ability to build self-confidence is sure to come into your life.
Thanks for reading,