The importance of being positive

As a “technology guy”, I used to say, “All I need is a computer and a problem”. But over the years, I realize how wrong that was. It’s working with people that gives me the greatest energy and reward. But I realized something about myself. When I get frustrated, it becomes harder to keep a positive outlook on things. Staying positive takes a lot of energy.

I recently presented to a group of colleagues during a Professional Development Conference in Naperville, IL. During this presentation, it was easy to be positive, as I was talking a lot about Enterprise 2.0 and collaboration, both of which I am passionate about and feel are vitally important to the success of our company.

At the same time, I also deal with a lot of critics. I found myself drafting e-mails with a certain “edginess” to them. Chances are, if I sent that e-mail, it would have been taken poorly. Fortunately, after many years of failures with this approach, I had the foresight to take a step back and try to think about how my e-mail would be received. I went back to one of my Key Takeaways from the presentation I had given:

Stay positive, even when dealing with Jerks

Now, I won’t say that this particular correspondent was being a jerk, I did find myself remembering to practice what I preach. And while being in person gives the recipient the added benefit of engaging all 5 senses, on-line communication only gives you words, not emotions, no body language, no visual clues whatsoever.

With that, I took some time, went back and deleted the draft (yes, deleted, no editing) and started again.  This time, focusing on making sure that I was looking to maintain my positive attitude. I felt much better about the correspondence and even received a much better response than I expected. This stuff works.

I have somewhat of a reputation of being a “Corporate Pot Stirrer”. While this clearly makes some people feel uncomfortable, I try to raise issues in a way that is respectful, and ultimately what is best  for our company. With this approach, I am able to get my points across, raise some eyebrows, but get people to engage in the discussions. That is the most important thing for me, as this is how I learn, how I teach and shape (and sometimes change) opinion on any give issue. If I was negative, flaming, condescending, etc. I know I would probably be engaged in many different discussions (possibly even with HR).

While this all may seem like common sense, I felt that writing this might help remind us all of the importance of being positive, no matter what.