I love negative, miserable people!
You are probably thinking that this sounds crazy! Most people shy away from negative and miserable people.
You see, I am a humble leader, a grateful person and a success coach. To me, people who are negative present an amazing opportunity to encourage a perspective shift. It is a chance for me to stop and listen to them about why they are so miserable or what is causing them to be so negative. What I often find is that people are the way they are because they don’t have someone in their lives to listen to them or to encourage them. Sometimes the simple act of listening to someone will help them dig themselves from the trenches of negativity. Many times, while discussing what it is that is bothering them, they are struck with the fact that what they are worried about is not something that is worth allowing to get the best of them. This may have been the first time that this tension has ever come out of their mouth.
As leaders, we are trusted to know, develop and care for those around us. We should have a desire and a passion to help people with their perspective shift. I have put together a list of five things I have found to be helpful in getting people to a perspective shift.
Acknowledge – Negative people often isolate themselves from others. You may be the first person that has initiated a personal conversation with them in months! Stop and talk to them. Start with simply asking them how they are. Most will give the caged answer of “fine.” Mention that you notice that they seem to be unhappy, negative or withdrawn. Keep in mind, some people will get defensive, but in the long run they will be grateful that you care enough to notice.
Listen – You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use your ears to listen to this person. Even if you do not agree with what they are saying, do not interrupt. Listening is a powerful tool. Be sure to listen with a non-judgmental heart and a kindred spirit. As John Joseph Powell says, “It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” Just by virtue that you remain quiet and listen to someone, you are showing that you care and that you are concerned for them.
Reflection – Ask them to reflect on the three things in their lives they are most grateful for. Ask them to go into detail about why they are so appreciative of these three things in their lives. When you feel that you have really gotten into their “why” ask them how their focus on their negative situation gets in the way of focusing on the three things that you just discussed.
Plan – Help them think about three new things they can incorporate into their daily routine to help them focus on the things they cherish the most in their lives. Whatever they come up with should help to be a distraction from the negativity. Again, you should continue to listen while they plan.
Encourage – Encourage them by telling them how much you enjoyed hearing about why they were negative, but how you really saw their true colors shine when they talked about what matters most to them. Talk about how much better it will feel to focus on the positive aspects of their lives.
I have done this many times and it has made a huge difference. I’ve even done it with complete strangers. For people you don’t know, you may not get to the planning part, but you can always listen. Just remember to listen with an intention to better understand them rather than listening to add your personal stories or advice. Make it about them and you will contribute to their perspective shift!