Sometimes I feel like the world is awash with Eeyores. You know, the glass half empty people. The punch list for the year long project has 100 items on it and all but one is checked off. We focus on the one incomplete item and gnash our teeth. Really? Only one box left to check off and we are failures? Quit messing with my chi.
What in the world do we do with these folks? How do we dig out from the negative muck they produce on a daily basis? Let’s pull up our boot straps or sandal straps (does anyone have boot straps any more?) and figure out how to bring some positivity into the work place and your life. Let’s figure out how to maintain some sunshine for the rest of us.
Here are some tips:
1. Losada Ratio. Dr. Marcial Losada created and studied this ratio of positive to negative messages within relationships and organizations. What he found was that organizations that have 2.9 or more positive messages over negative messages thrive. Those that fall below fail. In a marriage, it’s got to be 5.0 or better (thanks for emptying the garbage, Honey). So if you want your business or relationship to thrive, stick a sock in it and start pumping some sunshine.
2. Gratitude. Many author’s including Martin Seligman in the book “Flourish” recommend a gratitude journal or as he says “What went well”. I do this. Everyday before I go to sleep, I write three things that went well. I have to believe that it improves my dreams because right before I put my head on the pillow, I’m thinking about all that went right. It’s not like it’s gotta be “I climbed Mt. Everest”. It could be “I got dressed” or “I made it to work on time”. Focus on the positive.
3. Scenarios. Reframe the scenario. We all tend to focus on the negative. If we make a change, the project will be delayed. If it rains, the grass can’t be mowed. Our limbic system makes us focus on the negative. In “Flourish”, Martin Seligman suggests looking at the worst case scenario, but then looking at the best case scenario, and then looking at the most likely scenario. The project might be late but it will serve twice the amount of customers. The grass will grow… and the flowers as well. When your coworker starts catastrophizing the outcome, ask about the best and most likely scenario.
4. Outcomes. Ask your friend about what his best outcome would be. Focus on The What that he’s interested in. So Joe, “what would you like to see happen with this project?” “What can you control in this situation?” “What would make you feel like you accomplished something?” As David Rock espouses, focus on solutions (and stay clear of the problems). Keep it outcome based.
5. Hood. If you are living in the 100 Aker Wood, stay clear of Eeyore’s Gloomy Place (rather boggy and sad). Watch what neighborhood you hang out in. If it’s obvious that your household or your organization is on the low end of the Losada Ratio, pitch in and turn it around or move on. In the long run, if you sitting around all the gloom and bogginess, eventually the organization won’t be there or the relationships that brought the house together won’t be either. And if you seek out a new “hood”, make sure you are taking the temperature (or feeling the vibe) of a potential new “hood”. If you see any donkeys, move on.
If it turns out the Eeroye is a really important irreplaceable person in your life, say your child or your parent; it might be time for a frank discussion. Explain the impact it’s having on your life or your “chi”. Sometimes they just don’t realize how they are being perceived and their impact on those around them.
How do you deal with the Eeroyes in your life?