First of all, saying something out loud makes it real. Many things that were perceived as stupid, wrong, or pointless ended up becoming the greatest inventions or ideas known to man. By putting up road blocks to the ability of saying what’s on our mind, we potentially block the next great idea from coming into reality.
Secondly, we blast our co-worker, friend, or partner with negativity for no apparent reason. We typically respect, care about, or even love this person, and yet we feel the need to tear his or her idea to shreds. This negativity acts as a sort of poison, killing future ideas and it weakens your relationship with the person. There is no good reason to do this, and no, “but I’m used to doing it” is not a good reason.
Lastly, our negativity toward this person affects ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you feel guilty about a negative thing or not, a trend of negativity is one of procrastination, unhappiness, and a lack of achievement. You may not know it, but you are adding to a haze around yourself that will stop you from seeing positive possibilities in your life.
So what do you do instead? Someone has literally just said the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard in your life.
At least, that’s what an ex-girlfriend (later, a friend) used to say to me when the situation would arise.
Let’s face it, in college (and now, hopefully to a lesser extent) I said a lot of wacky and weird things. When I would utter one of those outlandish ideas, she had a great process that I still remember today. She would look at me with affection and a teensy bit patronization. She patted me on the head and said, “Pretty,” with a smile on her face. Her word meant, “You’re lucky that you look good, because what you said was quite ridiculous.” It was an complement laced with an insult and it always put a sheepish grin on my face.
How does this apply to your life?
There are so many times a day that someone says something silly, or mean, or completely off the wall. We have the tendency to make fun of the person, or complain about him or her, or look at the person like he’s crazy. All of those reactions, however, carry a certain weight of negativity with them. Each person in the world is good for various reasons. Each person is a beautiful creature that has been created from the same exact stuff that you’re made out of. They have dreams and goals and a whole back story that you may or may not be able to relate to. Whether it be DNA, similar goals, a story you can connect on, or some deeper spiritual tie, you can’t help but be associated with this person. This person who is probably very cool for multiple reasons is practically an extension of you. Hating on his or her ideas is like hating on yourself.
So, what do you do when someone says something that you’d typically have a negative reaction to?
Let’s face it: we have enough negative stimuli in the world telling us that we should buy products because we’re inadequate, that we should hate other countries because of their religion or history, and that horrible diseases will consume us from the bottom up. We might as well be positive to each other. We might as well help each other build our ideas into something tangible and brilliant. We might as well look into the face of someone we previously saw as an attacker and instead see them as a friend that we can forge a bond with.
Try it. The next five times you feel a negative response coming on, look into the eyes of the person you’re speaking with and list several ways in which you’re similar to that person. And for the record, you probably shouldn’t tap them on the head and say, “pretty.” Strangely, some people might get the wrong idea :).