The Power of Negative Thinking

Pessimistic by nature? Make the most of a 'realistic' outlook without bringing everybody down.

pessimism does have its downside and this crops up mostly in negative thinkers’ relationships with others — personal and professional. In general, pessimism can annoy and even repulse others. Negativity often attracts more negativity. So it’s best to share your misgivings only when truly necessary, especially in professional settings. Even then, try to position your view as strategic (packaged with a just-in-case solution), not emotional. Here are some other tips to help you manage your pessimism:

  • Prioritize. Not every worry is worth your time. Try to stay focused on what truly matters.
  • Respect Others. Remain open, even to the optimist’s point of view.
  • Know When to Move On. Devoting anxious energy to what could go wrong is strategic. Wallowing over what’s already gone wrong is wasteful. If you can’t fix it, let it go.

As for that age-old glass question, Lloyd D. Ward, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, offers this view: “Is the glass half full or half empty? It’s both, and it’s the wrong way to ask the question. We have to ask ourselves, how large is the glass, and how full can I make it?”

Ward is the ultimate optimist, but that’s a defensive pessimist’s way of thinking!

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