Stop Picking On Me; Do You Focus On The Positive or Negative?

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I collapsed on the bed after an exhausting weekend with the kids. It didn’t matter the activity, all they did was whine and complain the entire weekend. I remember after they were born I cried when it was time to return to work. This, on the other hand, was a day when I was giddy about Monday morning. As I laid in bed I played out the day’s events in my mind. When they were running through the house I asked them to quiet down. When they took out all their toys to make a campsite I scolded them for making a mess. As I reflected I felt bad about my behavior. I spent the better part of a weekend picking on my kids. The more I focused on their negative behavior, the more they acted out.

In turn, I spent the next two weeks at work tied to the whipping post. My temporary office became the private huddle room where my decisions were constantly called into question, my communication skills criticized, and my overall attitude dragged into the pit of despair. Just like my kids, I found that my mood at work became increasingly negative. It became me against the world and I didn’t care anymore.

Later in the week, when I returned home, I made it a point to tell my kids how great they are, how much I appreciate their good behavior, how smart they are, how much fun I have with them, and how much I love them. I vowed to work harder at focusing on their good behavior and redirect their bad behavior.

Knowing that positive reinforcement isn’t as easy to come by at work, the next Monday morning I made a concerted effort to refocus my efforts. I thought about all of the great things my job affords me and all of the awesome people I get to work with. I shifted my thinking from negative to positive and soon after my time in the temporary office decreased. I asked for suggestions on how to better communicate and accepted that not everyone views things the way I do. I’m still trying very hard to understand my decision making outcomes from others’ perspectives.

In the end I recognized that a positive attitude breeds positive thinking in others. While positive feedback can be hard to come by, you certainly have control over your own thinking and approach to situations. Perhaps people aren’t picking on you, but you’re picking on yourself.

How do you overcome negative attitudes?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
3 Responses to "Stop Picking On Me; Do You Focus On The Positive or Negative?"
  1.' dalegwolf says:

    I try to focus on the aspirations of the people I interact with–family, friends, colleagues, customers. Most sales and marketing is focused on solving problems. But this is negative. All of us in business and non-business relationships would get much further if we helped others achieve a lofty goal. If they insist on being negative, re-frame their situation into an aspirational statement and ask them if that is what they would like to achieve. With this approach, we can create win-wins more often.

  2.' SteveKayser says:

    Vodka. Diet Tonic. Jalapena Peanut Butter Sandwich – and watching 2016: Obama’s America. ¬† Oh…. and giving the nattering nabobs of negativity the F-Off finger. haahha. ¬†Nice post young lady. When you going to add the feature image for your post?

  3. Great post Marilyn.

    Negativity is like a warm blanket people cling to when they don’t want to change or when they are extremely defensive about what’s going on in the departments, divisions, or lives. It’s a means to protect their own self-worth.

    Like my pastor Rick Warren says, hurt people hurt.

    When you see negative people through that lens or perspective it becomes clear all the negativity is a means to protect their competency, status, role…and job. And it shows people in need too. They are most likely scared to death of change – thinking it will bring about the worst, not the best.

    In situations like that I like to reset the conversation and ask “what are we really trying to accomplish here?” And state that everyone is needed to make that happen. There are no optional roles in the organization right now – everybody, every day has to step on the playing field to make things happen. So sniping and being negative is burning valuable time and energy – I tell them to get their heads in the game and get moving towards a goal. Because any company looking to grow cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought.

    Be strong and keep the conversation focused on accomplishing something, redirecting it back to getting growth going. That’s what I would do.

    Be strong!

    Best Regards,


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