How to be a Positive versus a Negative Person

Positive-NegativeI recently met a man who was highly accomplished, intelligent, and wealthy. I thought at first he was a positive person, because of all he had achieved. However, as I got to know him, I learned he was a difficult person to know and like. He was indecisive and would constantly contradict himself in words and actions. The result was he was a most negative person.

This got me thinking about what makes a positive or negative person and how much better this world would be if everyone were positive. To this end, I offer you this month’s tip.

To go from being a negative to positive person is a lifelong task. We are constantly surrounded by negativity in many forms that tests us each day we live to maintain our positive power. As a result, we need to increase our positivity. Positive people (of which I consider myself one) are generally optimistic, constructive, encouraging, and upbeat; versus, negative people are generally characterized as pessimistic, destructive, damaging, and off-putting.

Studies that were conducted by a Dr. John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago showed there are what he calls “the negativity bias” of the brain. Negatives have a much greater impact on us. Our brains are sensitive and responsive to unpleasant news and remarks. That’s why personal insults or criticism hit us harder and stay with us longer. It’s why negative ads are more effective than positive ones—political or otherwise. Our brain contains a built-in partiality toward negative information.”

So from now on, think twice, perhaps three times, before saying something you might regret that will diminish a relationship. Ask yourself these questions as a way to stay on the right track:
1. Will what I say improve or deteriorate the situation and relationship? If there is any hint toward a negative response, then ask yourself…
2. Does this really need to be said? If yes, then…
3. How can I say it in a way that will be considerate, respectful, and honest?
These principles are the core of how we must think before saying or doing anything. Keep in mind: “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it that matters.”

Another psychologist named Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington says he believes the formula for success in turning negatives into positives is five to one ratio for married couples… that’s five positives to every one negative.  I think this is an excellent guideline for any situation… whether at work, among friends, and other family members.

So how can we accomplish a high level of positivity?
— Start by making a list of everyone you care about by writing each person’s name at the top of separate sheets of paper (or in a computer document). Begin with yourself as the first sheet, then your spouse, family members, friends, co-workers, and others in your community with whom you interact on a regular basis.

— On each sheet, conduct a SWOT analysis of each person, beginning with yourself. (BTW, don’t think you can just do this exercise mentally, it doesn’t work. It’s something you must write down to be most meaningful.) Review the sheets as often as needed as a reminder of the responsibility we must all make to maintain the relationships we have.

  • Strengths: List all the positive, great, and unique characteristics, traits, qualities, talents, and skills each person possesses.
  • Weaknesses: List skills and emotional sensitivities this person has. Never use this list against the person, as it can be harmful emotionally or physically. Instead, consider using the items to silently nurture the person to improve their negatives to be at a more positive level.
  • Opportunities: Jot down all the ways you know the person will like and appreciate to enhance the relationship. Might it be doing chores around the house for your spouse and family? How about treating the person to lunch? Cooking a meal? What about sharing a genuine compliment or saying something nice about the person in front of others for all to hear? (Remember: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.)  Take time to make a list of all the ways you can show the person how much you appreciate and are grateful for their friendship. BTW, click here for a past article on ways to show gratitude. (Also at: http://www.advancedetiquette.com/2011/02/expressions-of-appreciation-and-gratitude/
  • Threats: Among the biggest threats when working to turn negative into positive is complaining about a person and blaming others or outside forces for the situations that take place. Do not fall into this trap. Remain positive. Try to have a sense of smiling at all times which is something I practice constantly.  I for sure work at smiling inside to stay calm with a great sense of well-being. Click here for a past article on complaining (Also at: http://www.advancedetiquette.com/2013/08/are-you-a-chronic-complainer/)

No matter how severe or minimal your negative level may be (and we all are stricken by this malady to some extent) we must start by eliminating negatives every day. Substitute and add words of encouragement and acts of kindness and consideration, one day at a time. Start by choosing to only use positive versus negative words. Whenever you catch yourself using a negative word in your writing or in speech, change it. Positive words possess the power to heal and melt away the sadness that negative words and actions have.

Our nature as human beings is to function and perform better in an atmosphere of love, praise, and appreciation. We all crave and deserve every act of kindness and love. By giving more we will in return receive more, and in so doing we will make this world a better place in which to live.

Remember:
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb; Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
–Ancient Proverb

Also:
“Change your attitude! (Think, say, and act positive, not negative)
When you change your attitude, You change your behavior;
When you change your behavior, You change your performance;
When you change your performance, You change your life!
Think about it!”
—By Walter Doyle Staples, From Performance: Your Guide to Personal & Professional Excellence

Challenge:  Think about yourself and the level of negativity you display on a regular basis.  Think about others you know who are constantly negative and set a plan to help yourself and others to overcome these tendencies.  The end result will be a much more happy, healthy, and pleasant life in which to live.

Also, be sure to share your thoughts about this topic below.  It’s a subject by which we are all impacted everywhere we go.

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