This week I’ve been in two situations where someone has negatively affected the emotional ether around them. The first was a delegate on a training course I was delivering. This was someone with management responsiblity who basically didn’t seem to agree with much of what his organisation was doing. Tempted as I was to ask him ‘So why are you still working here?’ I didn’t. In fact his negativity right from the start meant I had to stop and address the issue of the kind of tone we were setting for the day and what the group was there to achieve.
The second was a stranger who arrived some time after me in a hospital waiting room. Now this waiting room wasn’t exactly the most joyful place to be spending your afternoon – no pictures, overly warm, basic seats, very little communication other than shabby signs to tell you where to wait. However, on booking my appointment the information I received said to expect to be there for 2 hours or so. I took a book, I accepted it would take time and got on with it. Only this lady, as soon as she arrived, asked those next to her how long they’d be there. And then she sighed and swiftly went on to tell anyone who was listening how terrible it was here, how you end up waiting so long, how her problem wasn’t sorted even after treatment, etc, etc.. I’m sure you can hear her. I tried to shut my ears down and focus on my book. The staff on the other hand, were positive, friendly, and helpful (when available) – they were doing their best to create a good environment.
So I was reminded of how easily one person can set the emotional tone for others. And what I wondered was, do they even realise the impact they are having? Much has been said recently about the media and the gloomy news on the economy. Of course there is a duty to report when things are not going well, what we need though is balance, and reports of what is going well. If we focus on the negative, then frankly we might as well curl up and hide under the duvet, because what is the point?
And I learnt this some years ago, as someone who was very much a negative thinker. Occasionally I get caught back in the loop, particularly if I’m overly tired or frustrated (as with my injury from a fall – which is why I was at the hospital). However, I soon realise that this kind of thinking isn’t getting me anywhere and certainly doesn’t inspire others.
So I’m not saying let’s be all positive and only talk of good things. Instead, let’s be more balanced and constructive. Let’s think about the impact we have on others. And if you really need to just rant and rave, find an appropriate time to do it, and definitely not in a hospital waiting room!