I was given a scorecard recently called something like ‘Buzzword Bingo‘. The idea was that the card was taken to business meetings and as each buzzword (e.g., paradigm shift) was used attendees could tick them off. Once all buzzwords on a card had been used the winner shouted “Bingo!”
This activity was created because so many of our communications and meetings are filled with jargon or trite phrases, many of which are not understood by ‘outsiders’ to the group. The general understanding is that everyone understands what we mean and if they don’t we’re seen to be somehow set apart in our understanding or connections.
“Positive People Attract Positive People” is one of these buzzword phrases that I’ve had quoted to me in meetings.
But is it true?
My response would be “Partly!”
I think that the truly positive person attracts all sorts of people; some positive, some neutral and some negative in their personality and/or outlook.
There is a lot of talk about the power of positive thinkers but this seems to imply that the positive thought in itself has some sort of mystical or magical power to bring about change.
We as people respond to emotional stimuli far more than thought waves. What effect do positive people have on us? They make us feel better; they lift our spirits; they put a smile on our face. But the truly positive people are those who do not play down adversity when it strikes. The truly positive person looks for a way through which takes into account the pain or hardship faced; they don’t deny it exists and think that just by having positive thoughts the adversity will go away. They are grounded in reality and they are grounded in the acknowledgement of human frailty and failing. It is their ability to withstand these storms and come out of the other side, often changed for the better that sets them apart. On the contrary, my experience of positive thinkers is that many seem to cave-in when the storms break, live in denial or pass the blame onto other people. They fail to be accountable or take any responsibility for what is happening and as such, they are usually impotent to effect any real, lasting change.
I think that we tend to forget that positive people do have needs and struggles of their own and because of their personality and their positive outlook, they are potentially open to neglect and dare I say, abuse; intentional or unintentional.
Let me offer an example from a friend.
Their daughter is positive and caring. She has a boyfriend who has a need to for attention. Perfect match one may think, but no. What has happened is that the daughter has become so focussed on meeting the needs of her boyfriend that she is losing sight of what is really happening. The boyfriend is becoming the focus of her energies; his friends are becoming her friends whilst many of her long-term friends are being dropped. In essence, the positive person is suffering most through her positive outlook. She is losing the ability to be objective.
Our friend’s daughter cannot see what is happening but her friends can clearly see and are experiencing the changes in her life, personality and attitude. They have an outside, objective view of what is happening. So positive people need support from trusted friends an family who can often be objective about what is happening.
So often we focus on what’s in it for me? In so-doing, we lose sight of the fact that the very people who make a positive difference in our lives and the lives of others are often the ones who fall through the net and are most vulnerable.
Some of the strongest exponents of ‘positivity’ and ‘positive thinking’ I’ve come across are the same people who will use a situation to their own advantage, disregarding the other party. They are happy to know you whilst you are of some benefit to them, but once you’ve served that purpose they move on to another positive person, to bleed them dry.
Many business leaders and business gurus see positivity as a means to success. It is a commodity or process to be taught for our own advantage, to help us get ahead and succeed, even at the expense of others. But this does not work! It simply leaves a trail of destruction.
Positivity is an element of our character that engages as much with emotions as intellect and it reinforces a need in all of us; to be valued and recognised for who we are and what we do. We love to be around positive people because of the feel good factor they exude and generate. Sure we can be taught to be more positive but if it isn’t part of our true personality and lifestyle it is little more than a thin veneer which is in danger of being scratched away to show our true self underneath.
I think that the need for positive people in our work and society is as great today as it has ever been. We know what a tonic such people are in meetings, our teams, our friendship circles. But it is also a reciprocal process, not a one-way-street, that is grounded in reality.
The great thing about positive people is that they affect everyone equally (including those we may not necessarily like).