Positive psychology and positive leadership is about realistic thinking as well as optimistic thinking.  It is not about pretending everything is rosy. However, some people are chronic negative thinkers.  There is a major impact on them personally and they can be quite toxic within a team.

So how can you as a leader manage this negativity?

It certainly doesn’t work just to fire positive messages at them or to demand a more positive outlook.  You are going to need patience and a long term approach.

It’s useful to understand that almost all negativity has roots in deep-seated fears. Fears can fuel beliefs that “the world is a dangerous place and people are generally mean”.

From that perspective, it makes sense to: question the wisdom of pursuing dreams (failure seems all but guaranteed); be averse to taking risks or be reluctant to trust other people.

The good news is that it is very hard to change someone else but if change happens with someone who is negative it is  likely to be permanent.

We have identified 21 techniques on our course to help you. They will vary according to whether the situation is chronic or acute and who you are talking to.  Here are 3 techniques you could use today.

1. ‘Reframe’

  • Express their negativity in a positive way
  • Show the benefits for them

2. ‘Modify the situation’

  • Are you triggering the behaviour? Change
  • Is negativity a bid for attention?  Reverse the ‘reward’ strategy.  Be warmer, give more attention when they are more positive
  • Can you ignore or walk away?

3. Discuss the impact on others

  • Discuss how their behaviour affects others
  • Work out some different strategies with them
  • Provide a forum for them to talk to you privately

Extracts from our new course “Brave” – a positive psychology led leadership course designed to help you achieve peak performance for you and your team.  Do contact us if you’d like to know more.

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