Getting stuck in the negative and the effects this has on others

What did we do before TED?! I watched a great TED talk recently on “Getting Stuck in the Negative” by Alison Ledgerwood and it got me thinking about staff cultures.

Alison talks about a “Gain Frame” (glass half full) and a “Loss Frame” (glass half empty). She links this to the way in which humans have a tendency to get stuck in the negative. She says it is easy to get brought down from a positive to a negative mindset but much harder to bring yourself back up from a negative. As we listen to the talk we can think of numerous instances of such a mindset in our own lives.

What really got me thinking was the impact this has on others, personally and in the work place. I know I have been a pain to live with at times, when I am stuck in a loss frame. Work gets stressful and it is almost impossible to avoid bringing that negativity home with you, where it poisons everyone you associate with. I’m sure I’m not the only one! Alison says in her talk that if “somebody snaps at you… you snap back” – just like if someone whispers to you, it is hard to yell back to them. Or if someone smiles at you, are you likely to scowl in return?

I used to do road patrol duty with a lovely boy who was always happy and every Tuesday I knew I would be infected by his smile, conversation and general demeanor. He would always bring me out of a negative slump if I happened to be in one.

I have also worked with people who seem not to recognise the immense power of the whinge (though I know I can be guilty of this too, it is a goal to do it less!) One person complains about a child in their class or how terribly busy they are and before you know it, that whole staff room corner is stuck in a Loss Frame.

I think it’s something to reflect on: How do you frame the things you discuss in the staffroom using a Gain Frame? How often do you infect people with positivity?

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