By: Scott Tornio, HawkPoint President
Negative talk infects everyone around you with negative feelings. Among the worst things we can do is vent frustration after a bad day, but we all do it. “That client is a jerk.” “This work is stupid.” “I know better than you, so I am going to do whatever I want.” “I don’t have time to read instructions.”
I’m guilty also. On some level, it’s human nature. Humans are hunters. Even the vegans have centuries-old instincts for survival. We not only sense danger, we look for it. We are on constant lookout for something that isn’t right.
Given our current access to information with the Internet, (it’s mostly opinion, NSFW and cat pictures, btw) we are force-fed a barrage of bad news. Bad news sells ads because that is what we are wired to look for. We are genetically predisposed to look for, feed off of and revel in negativity.
Negativity is not excellent. All our clients give us their trust, which drives our standards of excellence, worth it, ownership and predictability. It is frustrating to see a relationship deteriorate when so much effort and personal ownership went in to earning that trust. But, single-voice communication can help us focus on excellence, and keep us from going to the dark places we all go to when things aren’t going well. What this means is, whether we are communicating with clients or having internal discussions, we don’t alter the way we talk. This helps present a unified message and prevent negative talk just because of a bad day.
The single-voice communication method supports the “C” in our C.O.D.E.: Know your audience and speak to be understood. Listen to understand and retain knowledge. The goal of all communication, spoken or written, is to ensure a mutual understanding is gained.
Negativity is easy. Positivity doesn’t come easy for most. It takes work, but it’s worth it. There are a bunch of these easy vs. worth it comparisons:
- Negativity = Easy, Positivity = Worth it
- Inaction = Easy, Doing the Right Thing = Worth it
- Blame = Easy, Helping = Worth It
- Anger = Easy, Empathy = Worth It
- Retaliating = Easy, Processing = Worth It
- Quitting = Easy, Overcoming = Worth It
- Reactive = Easy, Proactive = Worth It
- Knocking People Down = Easy, Building People Up = Worth It
- Ignoring the Problem = Easy, Owning the Solution = Worth It
- Joining the Angry Mob = Easy, Rising Above = Worth It
- Destroying = Easy, Creating = Worth It
- Accepting Blame = Easy, Committing to Improvement = Worth It
- Silence = Easy, C… (I bet you know this one)
There are a bunch more. I’d actually appreciate you sending them my way, if you think of any. It’s a good exercise to get you thinking about positivity and communication. The point is, it’s easy for us to go to that dark place and feed off the negativity around us. Your coworker says something sucks; you agree. You may not even know what they are talking about but, “damn straight, that sucks. I hate it too. What are we talking about?”
Negativity just comes so naturally, and then pair that with the need to conform and be liked. We’re definitely fighting an uphill battle. But it’s a battle worth fighting. Positivity is always worth it. It feels way better. A positive outlook will bring a positive day, positive communication, positive results and excellence. Can anything be more positive than excellent? I feel like excellence is the championship trophy in the positivity playoffs. Choose to be positive. Work to be positive. Be positive. Do that as much as you can, and you won’t be able to stop the excellence from coming.
Hey, everything is positive so why do we need caveats? Because everything isn’t automatically positive. Positivity comes from how you respond. However, just because you are positive and are choosing positivity doesn’t automatically make the world perfect. Things happen. Some positive, some negative.
The caveat is to communicate facts. Don’t omit negative facts. Also, don’t feed off negative facts. Facts are facts. They just are. The raw data will speak for itself. The positive thing to do is avoid feeding off the facts that could be seen as negative. Overcome them. “So, this happened, but this is what we are doing to overcome.” The event may have been negative, but your ownership and reaction is positive.
I know that’s hard. Human nature and whatnot. The pull to dwell on the negative when the negative is so blaringly obvious is a tough thing to overcome. Own that. You know that so you can fight that. Rise above and address negative facts with a positive outlook. I promise it’s worth it.
Another caveat is for the single voice. The message may have to change, to meet the expectations of your audience. People have different expectations and they care about different things. While your positivity should be unified in all messages, you need to focus on the things that your audience cares about most. For example, an IT guy may need to hear the technical facts about a project, whereas a client may need the big picture. The technical facts could sound like criticism. “We/you/I made a mistake and it’s going to take a lot of additional thought and work to hit our goal.” Those facts may seem negative to a tech. However, that same message to a client, focusing on the big picture, may sound a lot more positive. “We encountered an issue, but we are going to put forth the necessary thought and work to overcome and hit our goals for cost, timeline, quality and functionality” Same message, communicated to two different audiences, to address each individual expectation.
Personally, I don’t see a difference. The message to the tech is positive. I am being given the opportunity to overcome a mistake made by my team and ensure WE are delivering work that is worth it. If that is my mindset, the work will be excellent. My positivity made it more than worth it. But facts are facts. Don’t tell the client it’s perfect, if it isn’t. Don’t tell the tech that they’re an idiot, as that does nothing but feed the negative. Provide facts, that address your audience’s expectation, but always from a positive mindset.
Lots to process here and I’m sure it sounds a little Tony Robbins for some of you. Negativity does that. Positivity sounds cheesy to a society that has been trained to believe that negativity is cool. Don’t conform. Rise above and start focusing on a positive mindset. Accept and communicate facts, but have faith and positivity for your team, the business, for your client and the work. We are excellent. We just haven’t all realized it yet.
As always, ask me questions. Communicate. Let me know what I can do to assist you in your positive journey toward excellence.
Meet the Author
I started my adult life as a graphic designer and I’ve tried to maintain that creativity throughout my career in Information Technology.
Over my twenty-plus-year career, I have worked a range of technical positions. I understand the limitations and the potential of technology. It is through the use of creativity and experience that I have been able to help companies integrate and optimize technology in their manufacturing and business environments, creating stable business processes and moving them forward.