Las Vegas—The most negative opinions you hear at work may be coming from—surprise!—you. Listen closely to what you tell yourself and others, and then slash the negative attitudes that hold you back.
Here's what trainer Fred Kniggen-dorf told admin pros at an American Association meeting here recently:
Improve your positive/negative ratio. "We tell ourselves seven negative things for every one positive," Kniggendorf said, and psychologists have found that it takes three positive statements to overcome the effects of one negative comment.
Instead of moaning that you don't have a college degree, "Figure out what you do have that people would [pay] a lot to have," Kniggendorf advises. Example: Understanding how to use a piece of software.
If Kniggendorf finds himself fretting that one or two people in his audience appear uninterested or un-happy, he reminds himself that the applause and evaluations prove that, for most, the session was successful.
The message: Don't let one unhappy customer overshadow your success with others.
Quit complaining. Instead of talking about the problems, suggest solutions.
Don't exaggerate. Kniggendorf asked attendees how many would face "a ton of work" when they returned to the office. Then, he hit them with a reality check wrapped in humor by noting that a ream of paper weighs only about 4.5 pounds. No one would literally face "a ton"—2,000 pounds—of work.
At another recent training session, someone said "Nobody wants to work hard anymore." Kniggendorf immediately volunteered that he did, the complainer conceded that she did, and other attendees chimed in that they did, too. Myth busted.
Stop "shoulding" yourself. Saying that you "should" do this or that gets you nowhere. "If you think you should [do it]," Kniggendorf said, "do it."
Tune out the worry chatter. Don't allow anxiety to create procrastination: One study found that 87 percent of what people worry about never happens.
Enlist an associate as your partner to overcome your own negativity. Explain that you want to break this bad habit, and ask for a simple signal, such as a hand wave, to alert you when you stray into negative territory, such as moaning about your workload.
List the "if onlys" that hold you back. ("If only I had a degree," "if only he knew how to ... .") Use that list to create your action plan.
Then, a plan to overcome each "if only." Example: "No, I don't have a degree, but I can take online courses, seek technical training and earn college credits for on-the-job experience."