Let us take a line from one of our favorite pessimist, He turned around angrily on the others and said “Everybody crowds round so in this Forest. There’s no space. I never saw a more spreading lot of animals in my life, and in all the wrong places.” That was Eeyore, our depressed little donkey from Winnie the Pooh.
Thousands of people have the same mentality as Eeyore, they are gloomy, negative, downbeat, defeatist, and feel as if the world is going to end. Another term I always use is melancholy. This is a person or personality that is always sad, sorrowful, faces depression and unhappiness. The cloud is always following this person.
Now we all get pessimistic and melancholy from time to time. Even as leaders we get gloomy and depressed, seeing the glass of water as half empty sometimes. But it shouldn’t define who we are and our personalities as leaders.
Let me give you 3 ways on how to deal with a pessimist:
1. Understand Yourself First
That may sound strange when dealing with someone else, but it was a very valuable lesson passed down from one of my life long mentors. Before I can deal with someone else’s attitude and seek to change the atmosphere, I must first understand myself and deal with my own attitude.
When you lead your team, your family, or congregation, ensure that your attitude is top priority, that you have completed maintenance on yourself so that when you go to lead you can lead with the utmost confidence.
To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
― Christian D. Larson,
It is not that we should have the “me first” mentality but rather the “if I am not right as the leader, nothing around me will be right” mentality.
Tell yourself this over and over. “I must start with me. I must look in the mirror. I must evaluate myself. I must change myself. I must change my thinking, my attitude, and my outlook. If I worried more about myself as I did others, I would be a better person. If I changed myself more than I tried to change others I would be a better leader.”
Now that we have laid a foundation, let us look at the second thing we should do.
2. Have The Pessimist’ Best Interest In Mind
When you get depression negativity, sadness, and attitude together, you have have a concoction straight from the pits of Hell itself. It is a brew that boils and steams, then poisons every individual that dare partakes of that devilish drink.
As a leader we surround ourselves with individuals of different personalities and walks of life. Different races, backgrounds, and religions form our teams and those we come in contact with. Unfortunately, we must understand that we do not have the luxury of choosing the cream of the crop top notch attitudes in every situation. And many times we simply have to work with what we’ve got.
So how do I work with a pessimist? Well one thing you can do is make sure your attitude is one that has this person’s best interest in mind. What is your ultimate goal with this individual? Do you really care for them?
You don’t want to manipulate and hijack their personalities, although that’s a thought! LOL! Here are a few ways you can have their best interest in mind.
- Show them you care
- Congratulate and reward the desired behavior
- By all means work on their weaknesses, but magnify their strengths
- Lead by example. “A positive attitude is better caught than taught!”
Show this person that you value their input and they have a very valuable place on your team. People tend to want to be involved and make things work when they feel they aren’t alienated and sense that they are an integral part of the family, team, or congregation.
3. Communication Is Key
According to HBR.com there are three ways to deal with a pessimist:
- Create Awareness
- Reposition Negative Statements
- Involve the Whole Team
Unraveling these three actions would take a lot longer than one blog, but the thread that binds them together, is great communication.
Most leaders get and remain frustrated at these individuals and cannot properly lead them. This is mainly a cause of not having the proper communication skills necessary to facilitate individuals of with different personalities.
Here are the 4 “Be’s” we can do to improve our communication with pessimistic people.
- Be honest-Do not let this attitude slip by. It can disease the whole team and undermine your ultimate goals.
- Be patient-Building effective teams does not happen over night. Helping a person maintain a positive attitude day in and day out will ultimately create the desired outlook in their lives.
- Be proactive-Always work on it. Spend time encouraging, instructing, and guiding. Teach! Teach! Teach!
- Be firm-If this person is absolutely not willing to change, fire them! Fire them from the team, from being your friend, or remove them from your organization. Cancer spreads and so do pessimistic people. Some people will never come to grips how their attitude affects everything and everybody.
As leaders we should master our verbal and non verbal cues to dealing with different personalities. You should position yourself in such way that you can help lead these types of personalities to being productive teams members.
The leader is a person with a vision, that understands their team, and the different personalities that the individual represents. They can take these personalities and maximize their strengths so that the entire team compliments one another and in turn deliver the ultimate demonstration of teamwork.
This means at times we have to work with less desirable personalities. But it also means it gives us an opportunity to be true leaders. Are you up for the challenge? Do you see what you need to do? Think of your own ideas, I would love to hear from you on your thoughts. Keep on leading and one day you will be the successful leader that you have always dreamed about.
Dustin L. Carr