The answer to individual negativity is group positiveness. Fighting individual negativity at individual level is a risky fight. If you are the manager of the chronically negative person, you may use threat (OK, up to you), may engage in a rational discussion about the negative impact of being negative (good luck), you may want to put up with it, you may pray, you may say, OK, but it’s Jim, everybody knows Jim.
You may also consider this path:
- Question. Is Jim influential? You’ll need to define this for yourself. If the answer is remotely close to a yes (so he is an environmental health hazard), follow step 2.
- Is there anybody who can influence Jim? If you are lucky and find more than one person, use them all. A group effect is needed. Individual confrontation, gentle or otherwise, is unlikely to work. Super negative people are not solitary hermits. They love audiences. So give Jim one. One of the people who can’t put up with negativity. The closer you can get to gathering a bunch of peers, the better.
- If all fails, the management technique to use is called transplant. Transport Jim to a completely new set up where people have no time for negativity, and one in which it may take ages to build a new audience from scratch.
Human beings transported to an entirely new environment respond by deploying strategies and behavioural routines, which its own existence is sometimes unknown to them. The new environment destabilises old defenses. This could go really wrong in weak people, like an old person suddenly transplanted from home to a hospital or a care assisted home. In my medical times, I have seen sudden deaths (I repeat, death) immediately after a transfer of old people, otherwise with no particular immediate health risk, from their cramped, not very clean, ‘unsuitable home’, to a five star 24/7 care assisted, residential accommodation.
It could be very good, like a student gap year in a new country. Or an immigrant settled in a new country after an initial struggle. Or change of schools, or moving abroad, or change of career. Success is not guaranteed but it’s worth trying. In my old days as a clinical psychiatrist, some of my greatest successes, in some cases, particularly eating disorders, were transplant driven. Short of a miracle.
Those steps 1,2,3 of social engineering work.
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