Isn’t it amazing how, in a room of 200, I’ll focus on that one person in the third row at the left who is clearly bored with what I’m saying. Marie Forleo talks about this in a recent broadcast. It isn’t only me, it’s a wired-in trait of humans in general called Negativity Bias.
Negativity Bias, according to Wikipedia, refers to the idea that even with things of equal intensity, those that are negative will impact us more than those that are positive. The theory is that noticing the negative is a survival trait that helps us attend to anything potentially life-threatening. It makes sense to me. That that guy in the third row isn’t threatening my life; it just seems like it to my fragile sense of self.
There’s a lot of good advice in googleland dealing with the impact of negative bias. Here are three that work – every time – for me:
- Switch your focus. When you notice you’re focusing on that one person, deliberately search out another person who is engaged with you. Not an easy thing to do, especially given our brains are wired to not do this. But that doesn’t mean we can’t override the wired-in. By understanding what’s happening, we can inject a little distance between our perception of the event and our response. Even if we don’t achieve a full turn-around, we can at least lessen the bad feeling. It takes work to see the upside when you’ve seen the downside, but you can do it; and the more you do it the more habitual this becomes.
- Practice positive self-talk. It may be that you really misread your audience, or you suddenly feel ill and need to finish. It may be one of those days where everything goes wrong, and you really do suck. We all have days and times like that. If this happens to you, first of all, know that you’re not alone. And then become your own positive audience: this is the best you can do right now. Then take yourself out for a soothing tea and desert afterwards, celebrating the challenging occasion. After all, what’s the alternative? Slinking to a dark corner and licking your wounds? Accept the situation for what it is, and more on.
- Learn from it. The reason we have this automatic response that makes the negative focal is to make our world safer. So use it: if you can, find out if the person you thought was bored with you would be interested in sharing what was going on for them. This is something that requires tact and thoughtfulness on your part. After all, he doesn’t have to say anything – it’s to your benefit if he does. You might even discover that his response was different from what you were thinking, creating an opening for a genuine and contactful conversation.
Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions. In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.
This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.
Getting Stuck in the Negatives
Quote of the Week
When someone tells me ‘No’, it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org