Why is negativity contagious?

Once again, I was stumped by what seemed like an easy-to-answer question. I had just finished a long week of workshops and keynote presentations, focusing on positive attitude and customer service.  At the conclusion of one session, an attendee asked me the following: “You keep saying that negativity is contagious. Why is this so?” Hmmmm, I had no answer.th[7]

Naturally, I began to research a sound explanation. I interviewed revered psychologists, teachers, motivators, and finally, studied some reliable sites on the Internet. I was surprised to find that many of my trusted sources were stumped by the question — they had no clue.

The following article had the most logical and concise explanation http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201012/why-we-love-bad-news

The article states that “The answer may lie in the work of evolutionary psychologists and neuroscientists. Humans seek out news of dramatic, negative events. These experts say our brains evolved in a hunter-gatherer environment where anything novel or dramatic had to be attended to immediately for survival. So while we no longer defend ourselves against saber-toothed tigers, our brains have not caught up.”

Highlights from the article include:

  • Media studies show that bad news far outweighs good news by as much as 17 negative news reports for every 1 good news report.
  • Many studies show that we care more about the threat of bad outcomes than we do about the prospect of good outcomes
  • Our negative brain tripwires are far more sensitive than our positive triggers
  • From evolutionary, neuro-scientific, and probability perspectives, we are hard-wired to focus on the dramatic and negative, and when we find it, we share it like a contagious wildfire.
  • Human relationships run into serious problems when the negative-to-positive ratio becomes seriously imbalanced.

One of the experts whom I interviewed also explained that when we focus on the negative in outside situations, it makes our own lives seem better.

Perhaps, instead of focusing on WHY negativity is contagious, we should focus on what we can do to turn negatives into thCANB57X1positives, especially when we are dealing with customers and co-workers?

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. When something negative happens to you, accept it for what it is and immediately move to step 2. (For example, your child, who’s in the military, is being deployed.)
  2. Create a positive plan of action. (For example, join a support group. Create care packages to send to our troops. Spend as much time with your child as possible.)
  3. Take action – NOW!  Don’t sit around contemplating the situation. Just do it!

Remember:  Negativity is an “evolutionary natural“ part of life. However, instead of allowing the negative to influence you, learn from it, think of a plan to combat it, and then take action – immediately.  When you act positively, you will become positive. Take it from Mrs. Happy Pants; it works!  And to help you with this process, ask for my free “Happy Pants” button by simply sending an email to support@badcustomerservicetips.com

What do YOU do to combat negativity? Please share your comments below.

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