I was having dinner with some people the other week and no matter what I said, they always retorted with a negative. It reminded of what John Maxwell said:

Whether you say you can or you can’t, your’re right.

You get the idea here: your attitude determines your action.

But the deeper thought for me is, how do you help these people start believing that they can?

Archived Comments

  • Codi Spodnik

    Hi Scott –

    Sorry I’ve been away so long. I struggle with this very topic. As frustrating as it is, I have come to the place where I think that it’s not my place to “help” people out of their thinking or their beliefs unless I’m asked.

    I believe we can influence all the folks in our circle by example – and I realize it’s difficult to remain positive when we are being told “no” and “that will never work” at every turn in the conversation. We can only remain positive about ourselves and maybe say, “It’s funny that you feel that way, because I feel that you have so much potential. I am confident you can do anything you set your mind to.” That puts it on the table that you disagree with their negativity, without really trying to take it away from them. For some people, their attitude is also their security blanket.

    Another day, at another time, after things have percolated, some of those people will ask you why you have such faith in them, even when they don’t, and THEN you will have a chance to preach this material about how important the attitude is. (And perhaps continue on to share a good book, have ongoing conversation, introduce them to someone or something new.)

    But…..most won’t do this right away and some will never do it. For those folks, all we can do is pray for them and keep our own comments positive and our own momentum going forward. We should not lose faith in people because anyone can turn it around at any time – I fully believe this! Some of us are more naturally leaning toward positivity or negativity for a host of reasons, but ANYone can overcome their negativity, bit by bit, once they are aware of it and choose to be more positive. Those of us more optimistic by nature have to be careful not to let them pull us down into judgment and negativity because that will decrease our own forward momentum and provide a terrible example.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Codi

    Great to hear from you – glad you’re well :-)

    I struggle with this too. I agree with you – ultimately you can’t push someone through this unless they give you permission – and even then it’s hard to and can take years.

    My take is that I constantly aim to inspire people and speak positively. If people respond to that, then I can work with them. If they don’t, then I can’t. But I don’t close the door on them like you say.

    Thanks for your thoughts – we certainly are like minded on this issue!


  • http://dr1665.com Brian Driggs

    People who choose to devalue their accomplishments in order to wallow in their every little pessimism are damn frustrating. I do believe it’s a choice, however ingrained over time.

    I think there’s a connection to be made between these people wishing things weren’t the way they “are,” but somehow expecting a one-time, silver bullet fix. That is, maybe there’s a need to show improvement/progress in tiny steps over the long term, rather than “something” suddenly changing “everything” overnight.

    Aaannnd we’re back to SMART goals. (sigh)

  • / Scott Gould

    lol… indeed we are.

    I hear you. And I agree that very often they don’t want to even take the smallest of steps.

  • http://www.12boxes.co.uk Malcolm Sleath

    Sometimes we have to stop pushing (because people just push back) and think about how we can dismantle what we are pushing against.