4 Smart, Effective Ways to Shift Your Perspective on Negativity

Our perceptions of our experiences as negative can affect our lives on every level. Labeling our experiences as negative has the power to ruin relationships, decrease work performance, and increase stress levels. The good news is that you can balance your negativity bias by shifting your mindset!

Not sure where to start? Check out these smart, effective ways to shift your perception of your experiences as negative:

#1: Don’t Take It Personally A fantastic book that I always recommend to clients is Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”. He lists not taking things personally as a necessary agreement to make with yourSELF. This idea is rooted in the understanding that most people act in a certain way based on their previous experiences and current circumstances. For example, perhaps someone took credit for your colleague’s work in the past, so now he doesn’t trust his team anymore. That doesn’t mean he has something against you, he simply doesn’t trust people in general. We’re all operating based on what we’ve learned from experiences, which means that how someone interacts with you is dependent on a great many factors, including their past experiences.

So, stop taking things personally. If someone is misjudging you, prove to them through your word and deed that they are wrong. Always try to be kind and authentic rather than stressing over it.

#2: Set Boundaries No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to please everyone, if only because what pleases us is so subjective. Couple that with demands on time and energy — friends, family, etc will always come up with new demands, and if you feel you’re unable to meet those demands it can undermine your self-esteem and keep you from focusing on your priorities.

To balance this feeling of pressure on your time and energy, you must learn to say no and set clear boundaries. If someone reacts negatively or tries to hurt you, see step 1, and go a step further by extending compassion to those pushing at your boundaries. There are reasons why we do what we do, and them feeling their needs must be met is completely human and natural.

You have the power to say no, use it.

#3: Adopt a Positive Mindset Sometimes it can be hard to be grateful for what we have when we’re dealing with an experience that’s causing us stress. However, research shows that cultivating gratitude can deepen and expand our experiences, serving as a buffer against negative thoughts.

Start with a gratitude journal and write a few things everyday that you’re grateful for. It can be as big and grand as having a child or as small as your morning cup of coffee or tea being just right. Practicing gratitude in this way reinforces positive thinking patterns and reduces negativity.

As a bonus, your positive attitude will also inspire others and strengthen your professional and personal relationships. The UnIverse has a funny way of giving us more of what we focus on, so the more you focus on being grateful for the good in your life, the more you will see opportunities arise.

#4: Find Solutions, Not Problems Our negativity bias means that we tend to focus on the problems we’re are facing at any given moment instead of actively seeking solutions. And, if we’re being one hundred percent honest, sometimes it feels good to “wallow in our sorrows”; to be sad if we’re sad or angry if we’re angry, deflecting any suggestions as to how we change or “solve” our problem. Unfortunately, this can compound already existing feelings of guilt, frustration and dissatisfaction.

The solution is that whenever you have a problem, take the steps needed to solve it. Don’t wait or hide, thinking it will go away. It might, but then again, depending on the size of the problem, it very well may not.

To do this, shift and reframe your perspective of the problem from a “problem” to a lesson, and ask yourSELF what the situation is trying to teach you. This can change it from a “problem” to a challenge, and you overcome challenges every day, now don’t you?

In conclusion, a good rule of thumb is to check your energy and see how you feel in specific circumstances or around certain people. Some people energize you while others drain you, choose to surround yourSELF as much as you can with positivity, i.e. the people, places, things and experiences that make you feel good. Build relationships with people who encourage you, support you, and cheer for you.

*Disclaimer: This article in no way acts as a substitute for clinically diagnosed depression or anxiety.

3 Ways To Thrive With a “Debbie Downer” Co-Worker

Being around people who have a consistent negative disposition is a challenge. Some playfully call these individuals “Debbie Downers.” Others call these individuals “energy vampires” and for good reason. As you may have noticed, it’s really hard to be around negative people without it diminishing your own energy. Following are three ways you can work with these folks.

Give them your feedback

It’s a delicate conversation, but in certain situations, you can have a candid conversation about the energy they’re projecting. Looking honestly at ourselves can be a hard practice, and some individuals may not have any idea how they’re coming across and would appreciate knowing. If they don’t know this about themselves, they won’t have any motivation to change. It’s a delicate conversation, and not everyone takes constructive feedback well. Chose to do this only if you believe they are open to the feedback.

Accept them as they are

Sometimes, the best option is to accept them as they are and do what you need to do to protect your energy. We all have a biological predisposition to think this way, and some people are content with this default way of thinking. You can’t change them, so focus on changing how you respond to them instead. A mental shift in your perspective can be a realistic place to start.

My personal strategy is to get to know the person. If I learn about their lives, I quickly discover how there is nothing positive they can say about their work or personal lives. It is not about me. I can then accept them more easily and walk away later thinking, “Thank God, I am not married to that person!” That makes me feel 100 times better!

Create boundaries

This can be managing the amount of time you spend with this person and/or steering the conversation away from topics you know are extra challenging. If you know you’re going to be spending time with him/her, can you plan to counteract that energy drain with something restorative afterward? Mindful decisions such as avoiding overscheduling yourself or activities that require a lot of energy can be helpful. Take control of your energy level by managing your calendar.

You may have less control over creating boundaries at work, particularly if it’s your boss, or even worse, if it’s the culture of the organization. If this is the scenario you’re in, the same stress management tips above apply. Furthermore, you’ll want to assess whether or not that environment is really right for you and what toll it’s taking on both your personal and professional development.

Opinion | The Cruelty of Call-Out Culture

How not to do social change.

By David Brooks

Image

When systems are broken, vigilante justice may be rough justice.CreditCreditTing-Li Wang/The New York Times

A number of months ago, I listened to a podcast that has haunted me since — because it captures something essential about our culture warrior moment. It was from NPR’s always excellent “Invisibilia” series and it was about a woman named Emily.

Emily was a member of the hard-core punk music scene in Richmond, Va. One day, when she was nearly 30, she was in a van with her best friend, who was part of a prominent band. They were heading to a gig in Florida when the venue called to cancel their appearance. A woman had accused Emily’s best friend of sending her an unwelcome sexually explicit photograph.

His bandmates immediately dismissed her allegations. But inwardly Emily seethed. Upon returning to Richmond, she wrote a Facebook post denouncing her best friend as an abuser. “I disown everything he has done. I do not think it’s O.K. … I believe women.”

The post worked. He ended up leaving the band and disappeared from the punk scene. Emily heard rumors that he’d been fired from his job, kicked out of his apartment, had moved to a new city and was not doing well. Emily never spoke with him again.

Meanwhile, she was fronting her own band. But in October 2016, she, too, got called out. In high school, roughly a decade before, someone had posted a nude photo of a female student. Emily replied with an emoji making fun of the girl. This was part of a wider pattern of her high school cyberbullying.

A post denouncing Emily also went viral. She, too, was the object of a nationwide group hate. She was banned from the punk scene. She didn’t leave the house for what felt like months. Her friends dropped her. She was scared, traumatized and alone. She tried to vanish.

“It’s entirely my life,” she told “Invisibilia” tearfully. “Like, this is everything to me. And it’s all just, like, done and over.”

But she accepted the legitimacy of the call-out process. If she was called out it must mean she deserved to be rendered into a nonperson: “I don’t know what to think of myself other than, like, I am so sorry. And I do feel like a monster.”

The guy who called out Emily is named Herbert. He told “Invisibilia” that calling her out gave him a rush of pleasure, like an orgasm. He was asked if he cared about the pain Emily endured. “No, I don’t care,” he replied. “I don’t care because it’s obviously something you deserve, and it’s something that’s been coming. … I literally do not care about what happens to you after the situation. I don’t care if she’s dead, alive, whatever.”

When the interviewer, Hanna Rosin, showed skepticism, he revealed that he, too, was a victim. His father beat him throughout his childhood.

In this small story, we see something of the maladies that shape our brutal cultural moment. You see how zealotry is often fueled by people working out their psychological wounds. You see that when denunciation is done through social media, you can destroy people without even knowing them. There’s no personal connection that allows apology and forgiveness.

You also see how once you adopt a binary tribal mentality — us/them, punk/non-punk, victim/abuser — you’ve immediately depersonalized everything. You’ve reduced complex human beings to simple good versus evil. You’ve eliminated any sense of proportion. Suddenly there’s no distinction between R. Kelly and a high school girl sending a mean emoji.

The podcast gives a glimpse of how cycles of abuse get passed down, one to another. It shows what it’s like to live amid a terrifying call-out culture, a vengeful game of moral one-upsmanship in which social annihilation can come any second.

I’m older, so all sorts of historical alarm bells were going off — the way students denounced and effectively murdered their elders for incorrect thought during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and in Stalin’s Russia.

But the “Invisibilia” episode implicitly suggests that call-outs are how humanity moves forward. Society enforces norms by murdering the bullies who break them. When systems are broken, vigilante justice may be rough justice, but it gets the job done. Prominent anthropologist Richard Wrangham says this is the only way civilization advances that he’s witnessed.

Really? Do we really think cycles of cruelty do more to advance civilization than cycles of wisdom and empathy? I’d say civilization moves forward when we embrace rule of law, not when we abandon it. I’d say we no longer gather in coliseums to watch people get eaten by lions because clergy members, philosophers and artists have made us less tolerant of cruelty, not more tolerant.

The problem with the pseudo-realism of the call-out culture is that it is so naïve. Once you adopt binary thinking in which people are categorized as good or evil, once you give random people the power to destroy lives without any process, you have taken a step toward the Rwandan genocide.

Even the quest for justice can turn into barbarism if it is not infused with a quality of mercy, an awareness of human frailty and a path to redemption. The crust of civilization is thinner than you think.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

David Brooks has been a columnist with The Times since 2003. He is the author of “The Road to Character” and the forthcoming book, “The Second Mountain.”

Fighting Our Negative Emotions Does More Harm Than Good

Sign up for Shine Text — a free, daily motivational text to make your morning better.

By: Anna Meyer for Shine

When I’m overwhelmed, I often find myself telling anyone who’ll listen, “I’m so stressed. In fact, I’m stressed about being stressed.”

Recognizing our emotions is typically a good thing, but when it comes to dealing with everyday negative emotions — like sadness, loneliness, and anxiety — that awareness can often lead to self-criticism (aka my “stress about stress” scenario). We can be harsh on ourselves for not feeling happy 24/7, and a recent study shows that judging ourselves for experiencing distressing — yet totally common — feelings only makes things worse.

We often criticize ourselves if we don’t feel happy 24/7 — but we shouldn’t.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley published a study last month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that looks into what they call “habitual acceptance.” The study’s authors define the term as the degree in which people tend to “accept their emotions and thoughts without judging them.”

The researchers surveyed 1,300 adults to test the link between habitual acceptance and psychological health. What they found: Participants who reacted to negative emotions with self-criticism rather than acceptance ended up only adding on additional stress to what was originally bothering them. Conversely, participants who accepted their negative emotions rather than rushing to change them went on to experience less negative emotions over time, leading to greater psychological health and more emotional resilience.

“People who accept [negative] emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully,” the study’s lead author, Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, told Berkeley News.

It might sound counterintuitive, but if we accept our negative emotions, we actually create a greater and healthier change — without pressuring ourselves to change at all.

“Acceptance represents somewhat of a paradox — it is effective at helping individuals change their emotions, and yet it is done without the intention to change emotions,” the study’s authors wrote.

Acceptance is seeing uncomfortable and bad emotions as something that we all experience, and therefore not something to fight against. But getting comfortable with all your emotions — the good, the bad, and the stressful — is easier said than done.

Emotional acceptance is something we all could use a bit of help with. Here, three tactics that can help:

1. Know You’re Not Alone

If you feel guilty or have difficulty letting yourself feel anything other than happy, you’re far from alone. In a 2013 essay for Scientific American, psychotherapist Tori Rodriguez writes that she recently noticed an increase in patients feeling ashamed or guilty for experiencing negative feelings. Her hypothesis why: Our culture’s obsession with optimism.

“Such reactions undoubtedly stem from our culture’s overriding bias toward positive thinking,” she explains in her essay. “Although positive emotions are worth cultivating, problems arise when people start believing that they must be upbeat all the time. In fact, anger and sadness are an important part of life.”

Rodriguez tells her patients to practice feeling negative emotions without rushing to change them. To do this, she suggests they imagine negative feelings as “floating clouds” that will pass, journal about their feelings, or talk them out with another person or a professional.

It’s also helpful to remember that feelings are never permanent — it’s a perspective shift that can make distressing feelings less powerful. “I often tell my clients that a thought is just a thought and a feeling just a feeling, nothing more,” Rodriguez writes.

2. Learn Acceptance by Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness exercises can also help you stay in the present moment without passing judgement on how you’re feeling.

While a quick Google search will lead you to countless exercises and practices, the Mayo Clinic offers a few tips on general mindfulness guidelines: Pay attention, focus on your breathing, and awaken your senses. Try looking at something familiar, say a coffee cup or a cell phone, with a different set of eyes. What detail have you never noticed in the object before? By tuning in to these details, you can become more aware and mindful of your surroundings and less focused on distressing feelings.

3. See Negative Emotions As Part of the Process

When we avoid negative emotions — or refuse to accept them — we place limits on ourselves. Whenever we tackle something new or challenging in life, we’re bound to brush up against some negative emotions.

“Setting important goals and pursuits in your life may inherently involve going through some challenging times and situations,” Noam Shpancer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at Otterbein College, explains in an essay for Psychology Today. When you avoid any not-so-great feels, you limit how far you can go. On top of that, you might create negative feelings simply by dreading negative feelings. “The fear of the impending negative experience becomes a negative experience in itself,” Shpancer writes.

Whenever we tackle something new or challenging in life, we’re bound to brush up against some negative emotions.

Adversity and negative emotions might seem and feel scary, but they’re part of the journey to reach an end goal. The next time you’re about to criticize your feelings (“Why am I so anxious right now?!”), recognize that how you react to adversity is a choice. Accept your feelings, and you’ll actually avoid the stress that comes from avoidance.

In the future, I plan on reframing my “I’m stressed about being stressed” into “I’m so stressed, but that’s okay.” I’m only human after all.

Four Found Dead Near Mall Parking Lot

Wait…what?

So, no four people were not found dead in a parking lot but interestingly for u, you’re one half of the people to feel intrigued from my title based on how four individuals you may not even know, were found “dead” in a mall parking lot. That tells me that you’re either messed up because you love reading about people who’ve died or you’re so used to hearing traumatic/horrendous events that you’re interested in what happened.

Now, there are the other remaining half of people who’d read this title and just move onto the next article because it doesn’t peak their interest or believe it sounds too gruesome to read. Everyone views the news differently in their own way, but most people would agree that the all we hear from the news are traumatic or depressing stuff.

My question I have for you, if you’ve made it this far, is have you ever noticed why you’ve felt so depressed after watching the news, as well as did you know that the news is negatively affecting your health from listening to it? News stations are negatively affecting people’s lives in a more psychological way, which will in return affect how they live their life afterwards. I may have not felt the psychological effects yet, but there’s a reason why I don’t like the news.

My story

I love my grandparents so much, they’re gentle and loving grandparents, but they do have a small problem when it comes to watching the news. They tend to sit on their couch or bed most of the day just watching the news, and would only get up to use the bathroom or eat some food. As a result of watching the news constantly on a daily basis, I rarely see them go outside and it scares me because I feel the news has affected them differently, but negatively as it has with me where they don’t want to go outside ever.

How my grandparent’s experience with the news is different from my own experience is that it I was in my living room with my family, and my parents decided to watch the news. I decided to tune in because I was curious about what they were talking about and all I could hear was “Two people were killed in…” or “There was a robbery in…”. which scared me because nothing they said was ever happy, the only talked about unsettling, traumatic events.

From then on, I never enjoyed listening to the news and would usually leave the room if I ever see the news on TV, especially since I know now that there are psychological effects from watching the negative news.

The effect of bad news

There is one article from The Huffington Post by Carolyn Gregoire where she discussed the negativity of the news and how it’s bad for our health. She stated in her article how “The world isn’t falling apart, but it can sure feel like it. The news can be violent, depressing, and emotionally draining”, where she highlighted how the news reports so much negative events that it causes people to believe there is only bad in the world, no longer any good as well as feel as if “the world is falling apart”.

She also stated that “According to some psychologists, exposure to negative and violent media may have serious and long-lasting effects…exposure can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” where Gregoire gets more specific into exactly what kind of long-lasting effects can negative news cause on an individual.

The effect of bad news part 2

A psychologist by the name of Graham C.L. Davey, from Psychology Today goes more in depth with the psychological effects of the news. He states in his introduction that the news can “…directly [affect] your mood, and your mood can then affect many aspects of your thinking and behavior…generates negative mood experiences, then these experiences will affect how you interpret events in your own life…”, which he does a very good job highlighting what I’ve been talking about this entire time. That the news can affect your mood negatively to the point it can change your behavior and every day thinking, which in return will make you more depressed.

He was also able to conduct a study in 1997, where asked people to watch a 14-minute bulletin, and they were either given an entirely negative bulletin, an entirely positive bulletin, or a bulletin that caused neutral emotions. As predicted, those who had the negative bulletin were reported as “…as more anxious and sadder…” but there was a more interesting effect to the study. Davey was able to find out that from watching the negative news bulletin, people felt more worried and “…spent more time thinking and talking about their worry and were more likely to catastrophize their worry…”, which meant that from hearing negative news, it causes people’s worries to rise and think the worst of things.

What now?

The news is a source of negativity that can only cause psychological effects for your life. It may be a source of information for those who’d like to know what’s happening outside in the world, but there is more negativity that outweigh any positives about the news.

Not only would the news need to allow more positive events to be aired, but lessening how much you consume it can help lessen the chance of any psychological effects. Too much consumption of the news could cause someone so much depression that it could frighten them to the point of not wanting to go outside at all. Being able to take a break from watching the news could help so many people live more positively and become less worried of the outside world.

How Fulfilling or Kind is Facebook’s Design?

Here are our real options for interaction on Facebook: “Like” and “Comment.” And, in truth, all versions of “Like” still just mean “Like” in the sense that someone paid attention and chose to interact with the idea you posted in some way. I mean, even “Anger” doesn’t mean “Dislike.”

So I get where Facebook engineers were going when thinking up this system: “You can passively ‘like’ a post, or you can write something, and interact with it! Everyone loves that!” The assumption here from a positive-psychology perspective is that comments should either (1) add to a rigorous debate or else (2) congratulate the poster in some way for a status update well done.

But as you’ve probably noticed, any comment interaction tends to take priority over the passivity of a “like.” We’ll thank one person for a kindly comment, but not the other 100 different people for each “liking” our photo, after all. And we’ll ignore 100 “loves” just to argue after one person lays out a negative “comment.” Even a troll we never met.

All that said, there’s no way to passively interact with posts in a negative way. I can’t “thumbs down” or “dislike” or “hate” a racist post, and then move on with my day, whistling a merry tune. If I want to publicly disapprove, I’ve gotta comment, which can draw me into an active (and intensely frustrating) interaction when maybe all I needed to do was indicate that I disagreed.

This has become such the norm that we ALL know the next, natural comment response: “Why? Explain yourself.” At this point in Facebook’s stage of development, that comment never, ever means, “Explain why you agree with me” or “Explain if you feel like it, but if not that’s okay.” It means, “I expect you to continue interacting with me in a combative way because your disagreement with my post/idea automatically opts you into social combat. Round One: Fight!!”

But maybe I don’t want to explain why I disagree with your point. And maybe I don’t have to, either. Deal with it.

Though maybe 100 very passive “likes” don’t feel like enough positive response to negate one negative comment, which naturally draws us into the next fight, even if we don’t want it, even if we’re just posting to get a few e-high-fives from our actual friends.

And maybe Facebook’s design for interaction — either “liking” or “commenting” — heavily favors frustrating, combative interactions over too-hasty-to-properly-validate-our-support-for-each-other like-clicks.

And maybe Facebook has incidentally reinforced a false, even mean narrative about how we interact with one another at all! That you’re either ignored (no interaction), nodded at hastily (with “likes”), or drawn into arguments (with “comments”). I mean, most interactions are surely likes, right? Which (one would think) means that Facebook should feel like a supportive, kindly place, right?

But does it? Or does this focus on “passive-approval but interactive-negativity” accidentally turn the site (and many others with the same basic interactive design) into the digital thunder dome?

How to Stop Negative Thinking – Kristen Becker – Medium

How to Stop Negative Thinking

Learn how to stop negative thinking.

In preparation for my new course, Life Sculpting, I’m doing a three week series to share some of the ideas and topics that we will explore in it. Be sure to follow my Instagram and Facebook pages to see even more from the series. #lifesculpting Sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know when enrollment opens.

Your mind is an amazing and powerful machine that is running your whole entire life. You gather new information through your neocortex. Your limbic brain processes emotions and sends the chemical signals for those emotions out into the body (we need to talk more about this later), the cerebellum stores and process the thought data base of your subconscious. In fact the subconscious mind is responsible for 95% (or some say more) of everything that happens in your life. How you process ideas, make choices, speak, behave, interact, feel, etc are all the end result of whatever you currently have tucked away in there (points to head).

Its stands to reason then that you might want to evoke some conscious awareness and control over the data in your subconscious mind. A big issue for many of us is the constant hum of negative thinking. I know I went through a phase where I stopped and said “I’m here” every time I had a negative thought. Well needless to say I was driving my car yelling “I’m here.” In the shower… “I’m here.” You get the idea. I realized it was not enough just to stop the negative thinking and now I know why.

Use visualization to create positive thinking.

You too might find yourself frequently ruminating about past or potential future outcomes or situations. When this happens are you being less positive and hopeful than you might like to be? What’s worse is that the more you do it, the stronger it gets. “It” being the negative status of your subconscious mind. That’s just neuroscience. The neural connections and pathways that you use most frequently in your brain get stronger. No worries though- the way out is the same as the way in. You’ve totally got this!

When it comes to negative thinking, neurologically speaking, if you don’t use it, you lose it! But our minds are addicted to thinking so when this happens; give your mind something positive to work with. Using the conscious “find and replace method” of stopping negative thoughts in their tracks and replacing them with the polar opposite positive variation allows you to rewire your subconscious mind. So for example, if you are anticipating something negative that someone might say in response to an upcoming conversation you are going to have, think about the best case scenario instead. Picture it, make the conversation come alive in your mind, visualize the details and feel the resulting good feelings! Your subconscious mind does not know the difference between real and imagined. In this case you are laying the groundwork for words, choices, subtle body ques and all sorts of things that now offer the opportunity of triggering a more positive experience when the time comes.

The subconscious mind controls the way you think, feel and act. Plant something nice and you grow your life into something beautiful. Keep planting negative thoughts and you’re life grows from the seed that has been panted as well. Your choice!

Comment

The Art of Saying No

There’s nothing wrong with saying no.

During my career as a software developer I’ve spent what feels like an inordinate amount of time saying no. During the early stages I was reluctant to do this, fearing that it would make me seem difficult, not a team player, unambitious etc, but after a while I realised that the negative effects of saying no far outweigh the negative effects of saying yes when you really shouldn’t. “You’re really good at saying no” is a judgey, sort of compliment that many of my colleagues have paid me over the years, usually with a soupçon of envy.

Why me?

Before saying yes to something outside of your remit, find out why you’ve been chosen for this honour. It’s usually a variant of one of the following:

  • We don’t want to disturb anybody else
    This is probably my least favourite reason for being asked. The message behind this is that everyone else is doing important work that can’t be interrupted, whereas what you are doing can easily be put off or not done at all. This doesn’t mean your work doesn’t need doing, just that it doesn’t affect the person asking if it is done or not.
  • Nobody else is available
    Aka we didn’t think this would happen so quickly, or at all, and we’ve planned things so tightly that there is no scope to move things around. Like the previous point, the person doing the asking typically has no skin in the game around your work, so you are seen as a sweeper that can pick up the overspill.
  • You are the only one that knows how to …
    Usually the hardest to say no to, but it’s still possible. If you’ve offered in the past to upskill someone else to avoid being single point of failure, and this has been rebuffed (because we don’t want to disturb anyone, everyone else is too busy etc) then you are under no obligation to drop everything due to your unique knowledge that you already tried to share.
  • You did it last time
    You did us a favour at short notice, so you’ve been identified as someone who will bail us out whenever we encounter difficulty. Often the requests will increase in frequency — you fixed a couple of bugs for us last week, here’s another five you can fix for us this week. No good deed goes unpunished.
  • It will only take you a few minutes
    In which case it will only take the people who are actually paid to do it a few minutes. This is often a short cut to We don’t want to disturb anybody else and typically isn’t true. It’s minimising in the hope that you won’t find out what is actually involved until you have agreed to it and thus feel duty bound to finish it. 
    When you are told this make sure to question the full extent — is this really everything that needs to be done? Typically you’ll find that there are a bunch of follow-on tasks that you are implicitly agreeing to pick up.

What will it cost me?

Before agreeing, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you the best person to do this?
    If not, why isn’t the best person being asked ? Don’t be surprised to find that you aren’t the first choice and that others have been able to decline.
  • Will it impact your existing deadlines? 
    If so, are you happy to make up your work evenings and weekends? Typically this means you’ll be saying no to your family and friends in order to say yes to your co-workers — are you okay with that?
    Make sure that your existing line/project management knows what you are being asked to do and the impact — you won’t be popular if you screw your project up quietly saving someone else’s.
  • Can you do it?
    Make sure that you are actually capable of doing the work — what you don’t want is to be on the receiving end of a dressing down because you assumed you could learn while fighting someone else’s fire. The impact of this on your morale should not be underestimated — while you might be expecting an ego-boost of saving the day, you might end up being blamed for the failure.
  • Will it be repaid?
    If you are prepared to take the hit for someone, are you confident that they will return the favour, or is this seen as a one-way street where they can call on you but are too busy/important/special to help you with anything.

If it feels wrong, say no.

There’s nothing wrong with saying no. Just because somebody else is encountering problems, it doesn’t mean that you have to put everything else to one side to fix them. This is especially true if you are being asked to help without going through the chain of command — that often means that an attempt is being made to cover up problems with your time.

The higher up you go, the more you say no

As you progress in your career, you’ll take on a lot of additional responsibility but you’ll also be carrying a lot of baggage. If you stay with a company for any length of time you’ll understand an awful lot about what has been done in the past — how systems work, why they work that way, how similar problems were solved in the past. Because of this, you’ll be the target of an awful lot of requests, because it will be an easy way for someone else to get something done. For them. Not for you, as you’ll be trying to do your current job while dealing with constant distraction.

If you are busy when asked if you have time to help out, then say so. Being too helpful all the time not only threatens your deadlines, but it can make your co-workers dependent on you. When you do decide you have time to help, ask what they’ve done to try to solve the problem themselves. If the answer is nothing, expect plenty more distraction from them.

This is the point at which you really have to question if it really requires you skill set. If you neglect the CTO work that you should be doing to pick up some junior developer tasks to make someone else’s life easier, is that really what is best for the company? No, it’s not.

The good news is that as you become more senior, no will be accepted more easily. The bad news is you’ll be saying it more often and feeling guilty about it.

It’s not all no

You shouldn’t take from the above that you should be relentlessly negative, saying no to everyone all the time. This isn’t about becoming a refusenik who your co-workers are scared to approach, it’s about making informed decisions rather than blindly saying yes to everything you are asked to do. It’s also about making sure the effects of you saying yes are understood – typically that something else isn’t getting done.

There will be times when you’ll say yes even when according to all logic you should say no — in my case if something sounds interesting I’ll get drawn into it even though I really don’t have time to get involved. There will also be times when you aren’t the best person to take something on, but you are the one prepared to work the weekend, be on call or go and have that awkward meeting with the customer. As long as this is being recognised then going the extra mile can be great way to speed up career progression.

I’m better known in the Salesforce community as Bob Buzzard — Umpteen Certifications, including Technical Architect, 5 x MVP and CTO of BrightGen, a Platinum Cloud Alliance Partner in the United Kingdom who are hiring.

Brightgen Careers | Brightgen
For 10 years organisations have relied on BrightGen to show them what Salesforce — and their business — is capable of…www.brightgen.com

You can find my (usually) more technical thoughts at the Bob Buzzard Blog

6 Steps to Shifting Negative Feelings

From time-to-time, we all have feelings crop up that we would rather not to dwell on. Whether that’s worry, anxiety, anger, sadness, or just all-out negativity. However, it can be difficult to let these feelings go and move forward with a more positive outlook. Negative feelings are a part of living, and they occur for a reason. But they also have a tendency to linger longer than we prefer them to because choosing negativity can often be self-perpetuating and, sometimes easier than shifting into positivity. So, how can we accomplish this shift? Practice these six steps to get started.

1. Focus on the issue you want to feel better about.

This can be anything, big or small. Maybe somebody cut you off on your morning drive to the office and it’s been bothering you. Maybe you’re going through a stressful time in your personal life and you need a break from constantly feeling overwhelmed. Whatever the issue is, take a moment to focus on it completely.

2. Allow yourself to feel.

Whatever emotions crop up as a result of this issue, allow yourself to feel them. Take the feeling into your body by putting your hands on your body palm to body, wherever you feel it most. This will allow these feelings to expand throughout your body which will deepen your experience of what you are feeling

3. Ask yourself the following three questions. Remember that both yes and no are acceptable answers.

Am I willing to let this feeling go?

Am I willing to allow this feeling to be here?

Am I willing to welcome this feeling?

4. Now ask yourself:

If I am not willing to let go of this feeling?

Then ask:

Would I rather have this feeling, or would I rather be free from it?

If you’d rather have this feeling, explore how come you’re resistant to letting it go.

5. Ask yourself, “When will I be willing to let this go?”

This is an invitation to let the feeling go now.

6. Repeat.

Maybe now isn’t the time to let the feeling go. Repeat these steps until you feel comfortable and ready.

These steps are a start to acknowledging your feelings, giving yourself permission to feel them deeply, and then allowing yourself to let them go. You are fully in charge of how you respond to the feelings you have, and you always have choices on whether or not you want to let them go or keep them.

This blog was originally published on Bridge of Life.

No Room for the Negative

I sat down with a new friend recently and found ourselves, per the usual, talking through startups, building companies, and raising venture capital.

This was his first time putting a company together and he, unsurprisingly, has a lot of questions about how to go about “doing” all of this.

He’s talented and sharp and even since the last time we spoke he had made a ton of progress on his concept and was moving with obvious velocity.

To be honest, I have discovered that most motivated people need very little help putting things together as they find the discovery process of building a new company as exciting as putting it together.

What I can offer, though, is simply perspective and a ton of “war stories” — perhaps most importantly I can share with others what not to do.

And, I always “keep it real” and try and help folks stay positive — this stuff is so hard it’s almost too easy to get negative about it all. My friend shot me a note the next day and just thanked me for it. I love that.

negative-talk

It’s not that “negative talk” is bad — it’s just that there is very little reason for most of it, especially when it’s less about the situation and more about ourselves. We simply don’t need to beat ourselves up — there’s enough of that going around.

This isn’t about not talking about the challenges or the downsides of putting together a new project and all the ups and downs and all the shit that happens when you try… it’s simply about trying to stay more on the positive and hopeful side of the equation, most of the time.

ram

*Boink*

I’m glad to have found a few folks that I can confide in, share, and who can deeply empathize with the challenges of startup life. It’s just not good to go it alone.

Just remember: Your greatest enemy, in many cases, is yourself. You’ll defeat yourself before you’re even out of the locker room. Just don’t let that happen.

There’s just no room for the negative.