Three Reasons Positivity Is Negative

by | Jan 6, 2016 | 0 comments

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First let me caveat what I’m about to say with the statement that I am not against positivity at all times in all contexts. Positivity is a hugely important part of agile, even of life itself, and the world would be a much poorer place without it. However, I do want to suggest that positivity should never be the only thing you aim to feel, or act like you feel, and used in the wrong way, it can actually pose a real threat to successful agile adoption.

First of all, doing anything too much is generally unhealthy. This is especially true of marketers and comms people. As an industry, these people are paid to be positive about things, to find the best angle, to put the best spin on something, to make out like everything’s great. This is an odd thing to do for a living when you think about it, and we all need some downtime from the day job and a chance to let off steam.

Second, positivity, done unrelentingly, and unthinkingly, risks being an extremely conservative habit. If you’re always positive about what’s going on around you, you’re less likely to want to change it, especially when you do positivity constantly and unthinkingly. One of the great things about agile is the ability to admit that something didn’t work, be honest about why it didn’t, learn from it and do something different and probably better the next time round. If you’re only ever positive, you almost certainly can’t do this.

Third, I refuse to believe people who are constantly positive constantly feel positive about things deep down. We all have things we like and things we dislike, so if you’re only ever positive, then sometimes your positivity will have to be a brave face, a mask, a facade. When you start down that road, once you start to pretend who you are and who you feel, you start acting and role and become less authentically you. Yet being open, honestly and authentically yourself is one of the best ways that you can truly connect with those around you. It’s connections like these that are required for collaboration, a collaboration that needed for agility. If you’re communicating positivity about something but not truly feeling that positivity yourself, then you’re not communicating properly.

Now I’m not saying you need to be unrelentingly negative either, that too would be to deny the truth of the fact that in any situation, there are positive things to be found. But if someone’s unrelentingly positive, all the time, about everything, they’ve either realised the absurdity of the human condition and transcended the cares of everyday reality, in which case they’re probably not much use on your project any more, or they’re putting on an act, and deep within them is someone who’s scared. Scared of change, scared of failure, scared of admitting who they really are to those around them. Those people, in my experience, have real problems with adopting agility. So next time you come across someone like this, see if you can help. It’s acts like helping these unrelentingly positive people that are the most positive thing you could do in the situation.

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About The Author

Gez Smith is an agile communications coach, trainer, author and speaker, and is also the author of ‘Agile Marketing: The Incomplete Guide‘.