Battling negative perception


A couple of weeks ago, I had a few hours to kill between meetings downtown.  I chose to setup shop at Panera Bread to eat some lunch and get some work done.  Unfortunately, I chose a spot that was directly next to a line forming for the lunchtime rush.  So, for 90 minutes I had the pleasure of listening to random conversations from professionals on their lunch break.

A few minutes into the rush, I decided to conduct a completely unscientific study and randomly pay attention to these conversations.  I was interested to see if there was a theme to this midday chatter. I heard the following types of comments, “She never gets me the form on time” and “I can’t believe he got promoted – he’s an idiot”, followed up by “I am amazed anyone does business with this company.”

In other words, as soon as most people leave the confines of their workplace they begin to complain about their jobs, coworkers, friends and management. There was no discussion about how grateful they were to be employed or the lunch menu. The discussion drifted from one complaint to another.

I would be surprised if my lunchtime observations surprise anyone.  Most people complain – it’s become part of our culture. We love to find fault in other people.  And yes, I did say “we”. I have the exact same tendency as everyone else to criticize others.  Just last week, I complained to my wife about the awful presentation we just sat through wondering aloud if the facilitators had ever used PowerPoint before.

The good news is that changing your focus from the negative to the positive is simple.  First,cut your social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and TV time in half (especially if you watch a ton of politics or reality TV).   Second, be mindful of who you spend your time with even if it means you have to go to lunch by yourself. Lastly, start every day by writing down a short list of everything in your life that is going well.  You’ll be amazed how starting the day with a positive frame of reference can change your focus.

As with most things in life, the solution is simple.  All you need to do is execute.