29 March 2020
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You've got to accentuate the positive.

Stop watching the wrong and start celebrating the right!

Peter Switzer
2 October 2018

After another week of looking at my media mates’ efforts to grab your ears, eyes and emotions, and on a weekend when a whole lot of footie players will be putting their best foot forward to win their grand final, I have to ask, why does the fourth estate think we want negativity?

Why can’t we spend time congratulating and celebrating the big wins before being concerned about the other less laudable issues out there?

I remember Tom O’Toole, the Beechworth Baker, who is a very funny, yet inspirational, guy, always tells small businessowners to think about the messages they send to their staff.

“Don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong. Tell me what I’m doing right!” he would exclaim and while it is a damn positive, psychological basis of connection, there are those experts who advise: “Don’t use don’t!”

This, by their own definition, is a fruitless warning because neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) experts tell me that we don’t respond well to the word “don’t!”

The following gem was passed onto me by the Canadian author of How to Make Someone Fall in Love With You in 90 Minutes or Less, Nicholas Boothman. He has another book called, How to Make People Like You in 90 seconds, and he told me loving takes longer than liking.

He insists that it really is hard to visualize doing “don’t” things. He used the example that’s it easy to imagine you feeding the dog. You go the cupboard and get the bowl and then to the dog food. You then put it in, go outside, call out Rover, though he’s probably already watching every move you make anyway, and hey presto he’s gobbling to his hearts content with the bowl being pushed around the backyard with his nose.

Boothman then asked the audience I was emceeing to try to visualize what happens if I say “don’t feed the dog!” It can be done but it’s not as mentally easy as doing the feeding of the beloved mutt.

He then suggested the reason your kids might disobey you and play on the road is because they hear you say “….play on the road”, when you actually said “DON’T play on the road!”

Undoubtedly, in the world of psychology there is dispute about this NLP suggestion. Even poor old NLP gets accused of being a pseudo-science and that’s because it is, but there is a lot anecdotal stuff that appeals to parents, employers, managers and teachers who have to lead people every day, in the unscientific real world.

In the unscientific world of the media, editors have worked out that negativity sells better than positivity, and while I want to know why, I also want to test the idea that if you want to be a high achiever, outside-the-square kind of person, is it wise to do the opposite of everyone else?

Psychologytoday.com says the brain actually has a negative bias. Nastiness trumps niceness. Insults are remembered more than compliments and it’s easier to hose down happiness then it is to beat depression!

US academic Dr. John Cacioppo, who taught at illustrious institutions such as Ohio State University and the University of Chicago, found that when he studied the brain, after showing people pizza and Ferraris, versus a mutilated face or dead cat there was a greater surge in electrical activity in the brain.

“Our capacity to weigh negative input so heavily most likely evolved for a good reason—to keep us out of harm's way,” Psychology Today’s Hara Estroff Marano tells us. “From the dawn of human history, our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger. The brain developed systems that would make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger and thus, hopefully, respond to it.”

We’re mentally programmed to be negative so and so’s!

Interestingly, successful couples are often those who can work out the positive and negative emotions and what looks like a big plus for the more positive partners is that researchers argue that a relationship has more longevity as long as positivity outweighs negativity by a factor of 5:1!

So, the pain-in-the-neck partner who occasionally puts on a big bash or brings home the roses and champers, isn’t likely to get away with these one-off stunts and end up with a happy, long-lasting relationship.

That said, psychology does love a bit of celebration when things go right.

“When you celebrate, endorphins are released inside your body and you feel incredible,” says Bill Carmody, the CEO of US marketing outfit, Trepoint, writing for www.inc.com. “When you accomplish something and don't take the time to celebrate, you are robbing yourself of an important feeling that reinforces your success. So much of what we do in our business is driven (or limited) by our psychology.”

So even if our media outlets don’t do enough to shout “yahoo!” and call for a “high five”, anyone in a business, a team, or a family should consider Bill’s following three big arguments for being positive and celebrating.

The act of celebrating changes your physiology and strengthens your psychology.

Celebrating with colleagues and business partners tightens your network.

And lastly, your celebrations position you correctly as a winner and attracts more success.

What was worth celebrating last week? Let’s stick to economics because the positive milestones here are often ignored. 

First, this on job availability for Aussies: "Over the year, job vacancies increased by 19.3%, with private sector vacancies increasing by 20.3% and public sector vacancies by 9.5%,” the ABS told us. That’s great news!

And second, on the worrying budget deficit it’s tumbling!

“The budget deficit for 2017/18 was $10.1 billion or 0.6 per cent of GDP. The budget deficit was an $8.1 billion improvement on the $18.2 billion deficit forecast just four months ago and compares with the $29.4 billion deficit projection at the time of the May 2017 budget,” wrote CommSec’s Craig James and that’s the smallest deficit in a decade!

This is really worth popping a bottle of champers over but make sure it’s Aussie as it creates jobs!

And remember, keep it positive and go long celebration, especially if your footie team won over the weekend.

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