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Secrets of Success

Positively Negative

Murray was frustrated.
It had been five years since he retired and his life was not going as planned.
Murray had worked for the federal government for 30 years and had taken early retirement at the age of 55.
He had expected his life to be so much different. After all, the “idiots” he had worked with were no longer around to bother him and the “jerky” next-door neighbor had moved out.
By his own admission he was healthy, but who knew when that might fall apart.
He had enough money but with the state of the world economy it probably was not going to be enough.
Besides, the jerky neighbor must have a clone because Murray’s new neighbor did not look much better than the old one.
His wife was still working, so traveling was out. His kids lived nearby but they were on their own and they had their own problems.
I asked Murray why he had come to see me.
“I don’t know. I think I’m cursed” he replied. “I had a career that really went nowhere. Every neighbor I’ve had is a moron and my kids are ungrateful. And this country is going to hell in a hand basket!”

I was positive I knew what the problem was. Murray was negative.

Positively negative.

What about you? Do you work with or are you related to a positively negative person? Or perhaps, are you such a person?

What’s going on?

The person described above does not really exist. He is a composite of scores of negative people with whom I have worked. They range in ages 18 to 65. They are both male and female. They vary in education and occupations, but they share one common trait.

They are all “glass half-empty” people.

The Problem

Negative people can be very difficult to be around for one simple reason.

They do not believe they are negative.

Negative people see themselves as simply being practical or realistic.
They believe their worldview is the worldview.

In addition, it is very difficult to get negative people to see another point of view.
That is because in their minds there isn’t another point of view.

Negative people do not have opinions. They are convinced they possess the truth.
Other people have opinions.
They have facts.

So there is no debate.
There is no discussion.
They are right and everyone else is wrong.
End of story.

This lack of understanding of the “facts” on the part of other people is a constant source of frustration to the negative person.

And since people are so out of touch in so many ways, the negative person constantly has to inform and correct others.

Not surprisingly, many negative people have a small circle of friends, often consisting primarily of loved ones.

What To Do?

I am a die hard, card-carrying optimist. My working life is devoted to helping people find solutions and overcome obstacles; but, I must confess, this one stumps me.

I have not seen a die-hard negative person become positive or even less negative. I never cease to marvel at their ability to see potentially negative outcomes.

The irony is when they are not complaining (which isn’t very often) many of them will tell you they think they have a pretty good life.

The solution about what to do with these folks varies. On numerous occasions I have seen them fired from their places of employment because of the negative impact they have on morale.

In social settings and in their personal lives, people with whom they come in contact may find imaginative ways to create distance from them. I know of many other situations where employers and family members make a decision to focus on the person’s good qualities and simply tolerate the negativity.

How about you my dear readers? Anyone have a story of a negative person who has radically changed his or her ways? Maybe together we can find a solution. If you have some helpful ideas I’ll share them in the September 2011 Secrets of Success issue.

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