A few years back, a new department leader “appeared” to be avoiding my colleague and I. After three appointment attempts, she finally confirmed a meeting time. Arriving on time, we noticed she was attending to a few students in her office. Eventually our time with her was reduced from an hour to barely 10 minutes. It was not a good start for us. Nevertheless, we went in “armed” with positivity and great expectations. After a 10-second introduction, she took over the conversation and expressed a desperate need. Instinctively I responded that we could help. Years later, she confided in me that the “10-minute” meeting was instrumental in onboarding her. In fact, she never saw it as a negative start. We could have if we allowed ourselves to perceive it as a negative start.
Whether the new academic leader was deliberately avoiding us should not matter and it did not affect our attitude toward her. It worked in our favor when we chose postivity and thought the best of her. If we did harbor a slight annoyance about her, it might have turned out more negative and created a huge setback. If we were not positive, we might not be so willing to respond to her urgent need and would have missed the opportunity of positively onboarded her in campus-wide online iniativies.
Nothing is too negative for positivity to overcome. It is not how it starts but how it ends.
Dan’s Tips. (1) Anything can be perceived negative or positive. Even an extremely negative situation could be perceived as an opportunity if we are not short sighted. It takes two negative parties to start a “war”. (2) It is our choice to react or respond. We cannot control a negative situation but we can choose to respond rather than reacting. A negative situation could become positive and vice versa. Every time you choose to respond, you are more likely to choose it again. (3) It is easier to respond positively when we reframe a negative start as a step in the right direction. This is especially effective if the other party is unintentionally negative. (4) We might be the guilty party inflicting a negative start. Adopting positivity at all times would help us avoid it. It is more difficult to turn it around if it is a self-inflicted negative start.
Do you have a similar experience in overcoming a negative start?
Have you wished you have used positivity to overcome a negative start in the past?
How do you avoid initiating a negative start with your subordinates, colleagues, or superiors?
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