Too Much Positivity?

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Subtitle – So “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” isn’t the answer?

I’m waiting for the CDC to get updated COVID numbers so that post will come out later. Cases did jump a bit last week so I’m curious to see what’s driving it.

I came across another post dealing with “Toxic Positivity” which I did not know was a thing. On the whole, a positive outlook is a good thing. Actually, I think the quote above has it about right so I was curious about the whole “toxic” thing. And it really just comes down to people who suppress negative emotions – either their own or the emotions of others.

A couple of examples I saw were people who always respond with a positive comment. “I just lost my job”. “Well just stay positive and you’ll find another one.” Something like that. While attempting to cheer someone up may seem like a good thing it can also be a case where you shut down what the other person is feeling. Sometimes, it is better to just say “that sucks” and then just be there to listen and help the other person through the negative stuff.

It all just ended up reminding me of this person I used to work for. If you read certain management books, they will tell you that part of your job as a manager/leader is to never bad mouth the company. Even if you disagree with a policy, you are just supposed to put on a happy face and try to tell the people who report to you how much of a good thing it is.

The people who write those books probably know more than I do but that was one rule I could never follow. Work for any big corporation long enough and you’ll go through some rough spots and you’ll see the peter principle in action. Plus, policies are going to change and every policy change benefits the corporation in some way. You’re job is to try and sell that as a benefit to the employees even if it isn’t.

I don’t remember the specifics of the situation but we were in one of those bad stretches. (We had plenty of good stretches as well so it all evened out) And we were in a staff meeting and all of us were in particularly grumpy moods about things the higher ups were doing. At one point, my boss was struggling to keep up the charade and I remember one person telling her that it was OK to agree with us and that she didn’t have to take the company line. But she just couldn’t.

That may not be exactly the “toxic positivity” they were talking about but it is in a similar vane. I do wonder what a career of doing this does to people. Certainly, there are issues with allowing a non stop bitch session but I think sometimes you just need to step back and let people express frustrations and negative emotions without trying to find the silver lining for them.

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