Negativity surrounds us every day. From the media to co-worker gossip, we are faced with a non-stop ambush of negative information and feedback. Even the word “rebel” in the title has a negative connotation. But does it have to? For five minutes, I would like to acknowledge three positive communication rebels who are striking down stereotypes, building bridges, and trying to empower others with tools that can have an immediate impact in their workplaces.
Positive Communication Rebel: Generation Stereotype Slasher Champion
During a recent conference session, I was paired with a young professional (YP) who had remarkable talent and insight. She was determined to make positive impact on her work team even though many on the team resisted. She told me that her team not only refused to work together, but some flat out refused to even entertain the idea that her teamwork efforts were beneficial because she was a YP. Combine this with an apathetic manager who said she did not have time to work on building the team. This was a negative slide in the making.
But the YP was determined to bring her group together even though she had already tried many of the solutions I suggested. As our session time grew short, I told her how impressed I was with her tenacity especially since she knew that some of the seasoned members on her team told her they would not budge because she was young. She said her goal to bring her team together would not end with their negativity. She was going back to her workplace to try again. She had a new plan that included tweaking her communication style and reaching out to senior organizational leaders to discuss the challenges. This YP was going to move her negative team forward despite resistance.
Positive Communication Rebel: Negative To Positive Magician
What happens when an expert gives you tools to help turn negative conversations positive? Do you use the tools? During a training session last month, I learned a great tool that rearranges how we handle negative conversations by spending less time on rehashing the problem and more time on the goal outcomes of the conversation and finding solutions. The speaker, Grace Lichtenstein, coach, trainer, and psychotherapist, called it a “GPS” for turning negative conversations positive.
While this alone was a game-changer for me what happened a few weeks later emphasized how people do really want to be positive communication rebels. I was talking to a colleague who was also at the training session. She mentioned that she had written “GPS” in big letters on piece of paper hung in her office. Soon after, she had to deal with an employee problem. When the employee wanted to focus on the emotional side of the problem for the conversation, my colleague gently guided the employee through the reframing process. The result. A calm discussion of ways the employee can improve going forward and not end up in the same situation. Time and emotions saved. Positive communication rebel badge earned.
Building Your Positive Communication Rebel Skills
Research has shown that a negative perspective is more contagious than a positive one. It is easier to ruminate over a team that lacks cohesiveness than to fix it. It is easier to focus on a problem than brain-storming solutions. It takes work to be a positive communication rebel. The ironic part of this hard work is that much of it is in our own control. Actions like giving power to what you focus on, understanding the need for continuous learning, and acknowledging from the heart that people can change helps build positivity. What other actions have you taken to become a positive communication rebel in your workplace?