Embracing Negativity

It’s so easy to embrace the negative.

In my seminars I pose the following situation: Suppose your supervisor asks you to stop by the office before leaving for the day.

I then ask people to respond by a raise of hands as to how many immediately engage in negative self-talk, e.g., “What did I do wrong?” The raised hands are unanimous.

But the negative assumption doesn’t have to be created. Consciously or not, this negative self-talk is our own imposition. Compartmentalize it. The supervisor may have a positive communication. Since the subject of the conversation is unknown at the time, a wrong assumption may prompt undue stress.

As an elementary, middle, and high school principal, I engaged in a self-argument: Should I inform the teacher ahead of time when I am going to make an evaluation visit, or should I just stop in unannounced and save the teacher the usual negative anxiety?

I finally decided to use the universal and enduring principal of good relationships: I gave teachers the choice of which they preferred—letting them know when I would be stopping in for an evaluation visit or visiting them without letting them know ahead of time.

Anxiety come from is self-talk, but so does optimism. When I was a classroom teacher and my principal paid me an evaluation visit, my self-talk became, “I have an opportunity here.” How I felt was preceded by what I said to myself. Feelings are the result of what we say to ourselves. Since I always like to feel good, I have made a habit of talking to myself with positivity, thereby avoiding the negative self-talk that often follows uncertainty.

More ideas on this topic are available at http://marvinmarshall.com.