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.

Greg Lowe

Greg constructively challenges the status quo to achieve real change in organizations. With a background in IT, communications and collaboration, Greg is passionate about making technology usable to make people’s jobs easier and changing the way companies do business. He does this by demonstrating value through building business cases and leading organizations to develop and support new behaviors, by working with leadership to help them understand how and why to leverage social business systems within their enterprise to achieve better business outcomes. He also writes and speaks about strategies and tactics that can be employed by companies to drive success in the Social Business space.

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