23 January 2006


One of my favorite things about this blog is the ongoing dialogue that happens in the comments that accompany each post. If you don't read the comments you are missing out on a huge part of what makes this blog worth reading.

The idea of a blog as a hub for rich conversation, where the blogger operates like a talk show host, to set the themes and moderate the tone, is one of the things that got me blogging in the first place.

Charlie Rose is one of my favorite interviewers, because of the themes he chooses and the tone he sets. He is an erudite yet humble man; he talks to interesting people; and he asks them thought-provoking questions.

I have always aspired not only to emulate him, but to be interesting enough myself that he might want to interview me someday.

For those of you who have commented on this blog's postings, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your thoughtful commentary -- it keeps the blog alive. For those of you who prefer simply to listen and learn, you are welcome and keep coming! And please consider joining the Communication Nation conversation.

And now for the theme of the day:

One thing that many people find difficult about communication is the challenge to remain positive; it can be too easy to slip into "complainer mode" and hard to stay focused on what's working or on making things better.

How do you keep yourself out of the negative zone? And when someone else is complaining, what kinds of things do you do to boost the conversation into a more positive arena?

As always, please share your thoughts.

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John Wagner said...


Some of that comes with experience, I believe.

As I've gotten older, I find that I'm able to separate myself from negativity. I've seen too many instances where it damaged relationships between people or between an employee and an organization.

I also have a frame of reference that is wider, so I can better evaluate whether something is "good" or "bad," and I understand the reasons why sometimes the best intentioned efforts or people backfire.

Riaz said...

Just say NO to devils advocates! (~Ten Faces of Innovation)

mycotn said...

I find the terms "constructive" vs. "destructive" more useful than "positive" vs. "negative." Criticism void of intent (if that's even possible) is neutral.

Anonymous said...

I have a quoted text by my desk that reminds me how to "steer" a conversation. It's called "Living in the Question" - trying to keep inquiry open. Negativity comes when the mind is made up. The nature of a question is that it often leads to other questions; promoting a wider range of responses, supporting more open-mindedness, fresh alternatives, and different perspectives. And, sometimes even dissolving negativity.

Unknown said...

These are all great thoughts -- I especially love the idea of "living in the question."

Something I could definitely work on.

JJeffryes said...

It all comes down to Theory of Mind. You must understand what the other person perceives, not just what you believe you are saying. It is all too easy to say what you think is honest but neutral, and have it heard as biting sarcasm or a direct attack.

When discussing things, I make an effort to frame anything nonfactual as clearly my own opinion, and try to ask questions instead of making statements. Or if I do make a statement, instead of just leaving it there, I immediately ask the other person their opinion on it. That transforms it from something that cannot be questioned without attacking me to a safe topic for discussion and communication.

Also, you must always be ready to say "I'm sorry" and "I was wrong." Those two phrases do wonders.

Melissa said...

laugh. when i find myself complaining, i turn whatever i just said in my mind, in the negative fashion, into a sentence with laughter. if you say something like "man, i really hate this client" but you say it with a chuckle, it really lightens your mood, retracts most of the stress associated with that client or situation. its hard to be mad when you're laughing, thats how i keep myself out of negative zone. thanks!